…We’ll speak after consultations – PANDEF
…It’s unacceptable —Owie, Igbodor, Mulade, Gbemre, Mumakai, Ikwerre group
…You‘ll hear from N’Delta, INC
…We can push for amendment later —Bishop Isong, Wills, Ambakederemo
…It’ll bail Nigeria out of economic predicament — Senate
…Investments, transparency coming to oil, gas industry —Gbaja
…It’ll create stability in oil industry, PENGASSAN
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Henry Umoru, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Ike Uchechukwu, Chioma Onuegbu, Davies Iheamnachor, Ozioruva Aliu, Obas Esiedesa and Dirisu Yakubu
Outrage yesterday trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing into law of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.
Stakeholders in the Niger Delta, including the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Ijaw Nationakl Council, INC, described as unacceptable the signing of the bill which they described as injurious to the development of the Niger Delta.
However, the Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, insisted that the new PIB was the best thing to happen to the oil and gas industry in the country.
While the Senate argued that the new PIB will bail Nigeria out of its present economic predi-cament, Gbajabiamila said it will engender investments and transpa-rency which would enhance the industry.
On the signing of the bill, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said in a statement: “Working from home in five days quarantine as required by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 after returning from London on August 13, 2021, the President assented to the bill on Monday, August 16, in his determination to fulfil his constitutional duty.
“The ceremonial part of the new legislation will be done on Wednesday, after the days of mandatory isolation would have been fulfilled.”
The Petroleum Industry Act provides legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities, and related matters.
Recall that the Senate had passed the bill on July 15, 2021, while the House of Representatives did the same on July 16, thus ending a long wait since early 2000.
The people will speak after full consultations —PANDEF
Reacting to the development yesterday, PANDEF called for calm, blaming the disastrous affair on Niger Delta lawmakers and governors who did not take appropriate steps to lobby other sections of the country on their position.
PANDEF in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said: “The Niger Delta people will speak, shortly, after full consultations on this callous act, on the best legal and political response.
“It is quite unfortunate that President Buhari went ahead to assent to the PIB, despite the overwhelming outcry and condemnation that greeted its passage by the National Assembly, especially with regards to the paltry three per cent provision for the Host Communities Development Trust Fund and the brazen appropriation of an outrageous 30 per cent of NNPC Ltd profit for a dubious, nebulous Frontier Oil Exploration Fund.
“This assent by President Buhari simply speaks to the repugnant attitude of disregard, propelled by arrogance, disdain and contempt with which issues concerning the Niger Delta is treated, particularly by the present administration.
“What this Act signifies is an unequivocal message to the Niger Delta people that how they feel and what they say do not count, at all, in the schemes of the Nigerian project.’’
It’s unfair —Senator Owie
In his reaction, former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Roland Owie, said: “What do we do, Bini has a parable that if a man’s manhood is unable to perform its function, you cannot use the hand to do it. Since the President has assented to it, all we need to do is to keep what has been done and start working towards an increase in the allocation to the oil-producing communities.
“If we cannot get it now, the world will not end because of that. If we cannot get what we think is fair from the present government, by the grace of God, we can get it from subsequent governments because we cannot say because we did not get it, then it should be reversed since it has been signed into law.”
Why Buhari speedily gave assent — Igbodor, ex-Reps member
Former House of Representatives member from Cross River State, Peter Igbodor, told Vanguard that the bill was hurriedly signed because it favoured the North more than the South where the oil comes from.
Igbodor said it was disheartening that simply because pipelines passed through a community in the North, they had to get paid or receive something, adding that effective representation of Niger Delta lawmakers at the National Assembly was not felt because they did not represent their people well at all.
Assault on N’Delta —Ikwerre people
Also reacting, Ikwerre People’s Congress, IPC, Worldwide, in Rivers State, in a statement by its Chairman, Livingstone Wechie, said: “IPC sees the action of President Buhari in going ahead to sign the controversial, highly unpopular and disputed PIB as one of the most grievous assaults on the indigenous people and ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta.
“IPC views this enactment as a corrosive attack on the interest of the Niger Delta as it affects the notorious PIB which had been seriously questioned, particularly in the face of our demand for resource ownership rights.
‘’IPC is worried that the new law is in furtherance to the asset-stripping by the Nigerian state, which must devastate the Niger Delta, particularly the oil-producing communities at all cost.
“We fear that this unholy law may wake up a new, avoidable season of unrest in the region. The implications remain that national rebirth and healing will be a long road and an almost impossible journey if the Nigerian government continues to ignore minority questions.”
Buhari should’ve vetoed bill —Mulade, Delta guber aspirant
Similarly, a governorship aspirant for the 2023 governorship elections in Delta State, Sheriff Mulade, said in Warri: “What the National Assembly did seemed insulting, but we had thought that President Buhari would heed the calls and cries of the people of Niger Delta before giving assent to the bill.
“He should have used his presidential veto power to increase or amend it and send it back to the National Assembly for consideration. The demands of host communities should be considered as we have rejected three per cent.’’
We won’t accept 3% — Mumakai, APC stalwart
In the same vein, former presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Mumakai Unagha, who also spoke in Warri, said: “President Buhari signing the PIB against the overwhelmingly wishes of the Niger Deltans does not come as a surprise package.
‘’I saw it coming because the President was part of the agenda to arm-twist the good people of the Niger Delta. This is to confirm that he is not a democrat, he is pretending to be a man with integrity. He is using iron fist on Nigerians. Just imagine how he rushed to sign the bill, despite our agitations. In any case, we will not accept the three perc ent, which is a slap on us.
READ ALSO: BREAKING: Buhari signs PIB into law
“Although our people will not engage in violent protest, we will be peaceful in driving home our demand. If the oil is found in any part of the North, he would have appropriated 10 or 20 per cent to them. It is unfair and unjust for the people to be treated as if they are conquered amid plenty that is sustaining the country.
“The Nigerian govern-ment is spending billions of dollars from the oil sector to acquire arms to fight security, yet the people laying the golden eggs cannot be considered for good condition of lives. When our people protest, the same arms bought with our money will be used against us.
“The Niger Deltan seems to be conquered areas by a cabal who keep telling us we are one Nigeria or Nigeria must be united all cost. The other day, I saw the Chief of Defence Staff preaching the gospel of unity and I just shook my head. Yes, Nigeria must be united but it should not be at the expense of anybody.’’
This is calamity— Clarkson, MOSIEND
Also reacting, legal practitioner and former spokesman, Movement for Survival of Ijaw Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta, MOSIEND, Amaebi Clarkson, said: “I am not surprised that Mr President assented to this controversial bill.
‘’It further reinforced the open Fulani agenda of this government. It is also a shame to the legislators from the Niger Delta who are self-centred with no iota of interest in the Niger Delta.
“While all the northern legislators from both political divide are always in agreement on issues of northern interest, our legislators would foolishly view issues on political line, even where the interest of the region is at stake.
‘’If our legislators had shown more than passing interest at the earliest stage of the bill and consulted with their constituencies, we may have averted this calamity. The law is passed in bad faith and we condemned it in its totally.’’
Nothing to cheer – Gbemre
On his part, Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, Zik Gbemre, said: “Nothing to cheer about. The presidential accent concludes the last act on a script of conspiracy that began with the introduction of the PIB and all the drama that came with it.
“Nothing to cheer because even three per cent has been made to feel like a favour to the Niger Delta. Worst of all, a Minister of State for Petroleum from the Niger Delta does not even believe the region’s oil communities deserve more than 2.5 per cent.
“This is another law not formulated on fairness and justice or popular wishes of we the people, but borne out of political bias where all that mattered was a number of votes and not object appraisal.’’
Deed already done — Bishop Isong, PFN scribe
National Publicity Secretary, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Bishop Emma Isong, in Calabar, Cross River State, in his reaction, said: “Though I have not read the grey areas, the President has the right to sign the bill into law and it is the law . There is nothing anyone can do about it. All negotiations, corrections and arguments should have been done during the second reading, not now.
“However, we should have a say in the laws that govern us, stakeholders must have a say, we do not even know if the right process was followed as it concerns the PIB, but the deed has been done.’’
Establish agency to manage 3% —Morris, environmentalist
Niger Delta environ-mentalist, Alagoa Morris, told Vanguard in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State: “I still give kudos to the civil society for the efforts and uncommon commitment expended towards an acceptable PIB, especially in the area of environmental concerns and host communities equity share.
‘’It is most unfortunate that while some northern states often send high-level public office holders to public hearings on the PIB, for the 13 years this bill sailed; no Niger Delta state government would confidently come out to tell us they ever sent representatives on our behalf to public hearings at the National Assembly.
“It is my opinion that having listened to the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, from a close range on the matter, it is what is available for the present, based on oil industry and global issues, especially investment opportunities, renewable energy gradually taking over and ability to pay the agreed percentage from operational cost, instead of from profit as many oil companies hardly declared profits.
“In the light of the above, I will align my thoughts with those who think of how the communities will get this little percentage than having 10 per cent like the 13 per cent derivation which does not get to host communities at all. I would like to see a scenario where host communities directly feel this three per cent than not seeing anything at all.”
President did no wrong — Ambakederimo
Convener of South-South Reawakening Group, Joseph Ambakederimo, said: “There is nothing wrong with the President signing the PIB into law as passed by the NASS. We should thank the President for signing this PIB as soon as practicable after all the rigmarole for over 20 years. If we think because of the three per cent we want to go to war, it is not a good thing to do.
“The President has signed and we, the stakeholders, should work round the clock to seek amendments to the portions of the bill we are not comfortable with. At least, the process of lawmaking guarantees us that privilege. Therefore, we should work with the government to continue to look at all the issues as they come.
Offensive areas can be amended – Nwauju, NDRA
Speaking to one of our correspondents at Port Harcourt, Rivers State, spokesman, Niger Delta Rights Advocates, NDRA, Darlington Nwauju, said: “For us in the NDRA, it is the first step to righting all the wrongs in the over 60 years of oil exploitation and exploration in the region by having a governance structure for the petroleum industry.
“Going forward, the grey areas such as the three per cent equity share to host communities can be amended through concerted efforts by the region’s future legislators and the government at the centre.”
3% not a bad start – Umoh, ex-A’Ibom speaker
Former speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Peter Linus Umoh, said in his reaction: “The fact that the PIB law has been assented to by President Buhari is a welcome development and as a former member of House of Representatives, it is a big a thing that has happened for Nigeria. Let me also congratulate members of the present National Assembly.
“You see, the PIB was introduced in our own time in 2007, but because of divergent interests and fears generated from northerners that it was going to deprive them so much and then give so much to the oil and gas producing communities, the bill was left there. Fear made them (northerners) keep the PIB wobbling all these years.”
It will bail Nigeria out of its econo-mic predicament —Senate
In its reaction, Senate in a statement by its Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC Osun Central), described the assent by President Buhari to the PIB as a major victory that had the potential of bailing Nigeria out of its economic predicament.
He said: “Efforts at reaching this stage have been protracted affairs as the bill, first initiated in 2003, had been subjected to a ping pong affair between the previous legislatures and the executive.
“The 9th National Assembly finally broke the jinx when it recently passed the bill after working dispassionately by putting the interest of the nation first over petty squabbles and other self- interests, thereby laying finally to rest, previous failed attempts.”
Investments, transparency to now flourish in oil, gas industry— Gbajabiamila
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Lanre Lasisi, noted that the coming into being of the law was a victory for Nigerians and a landmark achievement that ended the two-decade-long journey of the PIB.
Gbajabiamila said when massive investments come in as a result of the PIB, a lot of Nigerians would gain employment.
He said he was optimistic that with the coming on board of the PIB, Nigerians will also benefit from reduced fuel prices as there would be competition among the industry players.
The speaker praised the determination of the 9th Assembly that saw the Act become a success and commended the synergy between the executive and legislative arms of government that won the victory for Nigerians.
“As I said before, this is a landmark achievement. It has been 20 years in coming. This 9th Assem-bly will be recorded on the right side of history for this big score,” he stated.
Optimism greets President Buhari’s assent to PIB
Meanwhile, oil and gas industry stakeholders yesterday heaved a sigh of relief and expressed hope for the growth of the sector with the signing into law of the PIB.
Reacting to the presidential assent, the National President of President, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, told Vanguard that it was a welcome development.
He said: “For us, it is a welcome development because there has been uncertainty in the oil and gas industry in the last 20 years but the signing of the PIB today (yesterday) has brought to an end the level of uncertainty in the sector.
“This is because there is no investor that will want to put its money into an economy where you are not sure what the rule will be in the next six months or next one year. You tend to take your money to at best another economy and invest. But signing this particular bill has put a rest to those uncertainties.
“Is PENGASSAN 100 per cent at home with the bill? Do we have areas of concern in the bill? The answer is yes. One of such areas is the dual regulators created for the industry.
“If you look at the other industries like the banking industry, you have one regulator which is the Central Bank of Nigeria. In the telecom industry, you have one regulator which is the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, and in the pension industry, you have just the National Pension Commission, PENCOM, but this bill has brought to bear two regulatory bodies.
“Our problem with that is that if you have an investor coming to invest in Nigeria, may be in the upstream, you need to get clearance from the upstream regulatory commission and you will also need to go downstream and get a similar clearance from the Mid and Downstream Regulatory Authority, if you want to lay pipelines.
“We think there may be unhealthy competition between the two and that is why we advocated one regulator with two strong departments. But overall, we are happy and we give it about 75 per cent. We know that there is no perfect law.”
You‘ll hear from N’Delta, INC tells Buhari
Reacting, President of Ijaw National Congress, INC, Prof Benjamin Okaba, said: “We remain resolute on our earlier stance on the minimum acceptable allocation of 10 per cent for the oil- bearing communities as compensation for the various degrees of damages suffered in course of oil and gas production in the area.
“Our next line of action after the passage of paltry three per cent against the wish and expectations of masses of the Niger Delta and other well-meaning Nigerians home and abroad, shall be announced after further consultations with critical stakeholders within and outside the region.”
Former President, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Eric Omare, said: “President Buhari signing the PIB into law, despite protest by Niger Delta stakeholders simply shows that what matters to him is not the peace and stability of the Niger Delta and by extension the wider Nigeria but the interest of the northern hegemony.
“The PIB in its present form, would not provide the conducive environ-ment for oil companies to invest in the Niger Delta because it does not meet the expectations of the people. The age long agitations would continue and this is most unfortunate.’’
PDP chides Buhari for signing PIB despite public outcry
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has berated President Buhari for “ignoring the outcry by Nigerians” across board not to sign the offensive, repugnant and anti-people PIB, as passed by the National Assembly, into law.
PDP in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “President Buhari has only authenticated that he is not a listening leader and that the APC and its leaders are only out to trample on the will of Nigerians for their selfish interests.
“In putting his hands to endorse the obnoxious bill, even with its distasteful, paltry and provocative three per cent revenue to oil producing communities, President Buhari and the APC have again displayed disdain and insensitivity to the sufferings of the people of the Niger Delta.
“The PDP holds that such is the height of contempt to oil producing communities, particularly in the face of the challenges which they face as a result of oil exploration.
“Mr President could have returned the bill to the National Assembly with a request that it is made to address the demands of the oil producing communities. The new law cannot guarantee the desired stability and development in the oil and gas sector as well as respite in the Niger Delta region.
“If anything, the act as signed by President Buhari is a dangerous recipe for avoidable crisis in the sector.
“The PDP calls on President Buhari to salvage the situation by immediately forwarding an amendment bill to the National Assembly to reflect the true wishes and aspirations of every segment of our nation.”