*Set up committee to harmonise position on constitution review
By Henry Umoru, ABUJA
GOVERNORS of the South-West geo-political zone of the country met with Senators and members of the House of Representatives from the Zone, Tuesday night, over the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and other matters germane to the region.
At the meeting, the governors and lawmakers resolved that both chambers must approve 5% of the actual annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year in the upstream petroleum operations affecting the host communities for funding of the Host Communities Trust Fund in the new PIB.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, and the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu(SAN), did not mention the issue of PIB while briefing journalists at the end of the meeting.
However, a source at the meeting told Vanguard that at the meeting the governors and the lawmakers agreed to throw their weights behind the members of House of Representatives on 5% for host communities.
Recall that the two chambers of the National Assembly, last week Thursday, passed the PIB, after about 13 years of legislative fireworks where the Senate approved 3% and House of Representatives chose 5% of Operating Expenditure granted to the host communities and 30% provision for the Frontier Exploration Fund.
The original bill brought to the Senate by the Executive was 2.5% for funding of the Host Communities Trust Fund, but the Committee moved it to 5%, while the Senate at the end of the day approved 3%.
The bill was first sent to the National Assembly in 2008 by President Umaru Yar’Adua, now deceased, without translating it into an Act.
The PIB 2020 seeks to introduce far-reaching reforms in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Briefing journalists Tuesday night in Abuja after the meeting, Akeredolu who was flanked by governors of Ekiti, Oyo, Lagos, Ogun and Osun, said that the Zone will come up with a common position on the constitution review that is currently being carried out by the National Assembly.
According to him, a committee made up of chairmen of caucuses of both the upper and lower chambers and Attorney-Generals of the state to that harmonise and come up with a position and that will have a serious impact.
Akeredolu said: “South-West governors held a meeting with members of the House of Representatives and Senators from South West.
“At the meeting, we discussed so many areas of interest, but most importantly we deliberated on constitutional amendments and we resolved that we will present a common position as regards to an amendment to the constitution.
“And in order to achieve this, we set up a committee. The committee is made of up senators led by the caucus chairman and House of Representatives caucus chairman and attorneys of the south west states.
“The committee is to harmonise our position so that we can present it when necessary before the two the House and at the end of the day have a constitutional amendment that has our serious input.”
The meeting, which took place at Imo Hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, started at 8.10 p.m, with the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu(SAN) presiding and it came to an end at 10.10p.m.
In her opening prayer, Senator Oluremi Tinubu(APC, Lagos Central) called on God to intervene in the affairs of Nigeria against the backdrop that the country is at a crucial time in the history of our nation.
The meeting had the newly passed PIB and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as the agenda.