…lobby House leadership, colleagues
…Act, a bad law, ‘ll cause crisis-Chinda
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives from Niger Delta region have said they will push for an increment of the equity shares from the current 3 percent to 5 percent for the oil host communities in the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
They said that the proposed amendment of the Act by President Muhammadu Buhari was an opportunity to right the wrongs in the law.
It will be recalled that National Assembly passed the bill into law in July this year and subsequently, the President on August 16, 2021 assented to the Bill, making it a law.
READ ALSO:PIA: Experts react as Buhari directs incorporation of NNPC Limited
But before its passage, the Senate had passed 3 percent as equity for the host communities while the House approved 5 percent with a differential of 2 percent.
However, a joint conference committee of both chambers eventually adopted Senate’s approved 3 percent.
The adoption was greeted by a mixed reaction and outright rejection by many quarters in the oil rich coastal region who were however handicapped.
Speaking exclusively with Vanguard on Sunday, some members of the House from the Niger Delta said they will move for an increment in the provision, noting however that it required a strategic meeting of all the lawmakers from the zone.
The lawmakers who spoke to the paper included the chairman, House Committee on Host Communities, Hon. Dumnamene Dekor; the leader of the PDP caucus in the House, Hon. Kingsley Chinda; Hon. Serguis Ogun from Edo State and Hon. Ben Igbakpa from Delta State.
President’s proposal does not foreclose other amendments- Hon. Dumnamene Dekor, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Host Communities and member representing Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency of Rivers State
“Any proposal of an amendment that is before the National Assembly today does not foreclose other amendment proposals. That’s my position. The 5 % is not exclusive. It can also be proposed”.
PIA “ll cause crisis- Hon. Kingsley Chinda representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency of Rivers State
“We have consistently condemned the PIA, which is one of worse laws in recent time. Our position is justified by the hurried need to amend same.
Any law that will not make for peace in the country is a bad law and contrary to Section 4 (2) of the Constitution that empowers NASS to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the country.
“The PIA will cause crises in the Country and therefore is a bad law. Aside the devilish 3% for host Communities, how do u leave the definition of host communities to the discretion of the operators? There must be some clear yardstick.
“How can you punish host communities for any sabotage on oil facilities? Who has the responsibility to protect the oil facilities?
“I hope that the amendment sent to NASS will afford us the opportunity for a holistic amendment to take care of all or most of the anomalies in the Act. I pray the leadership of NASS will see reason to allow reason prevail this time”.
Any member from the oil producing states will have to come with an amendment for the increase- Serguis Ogun epresenting Esan North East/Esan South East of Edo State
“I don’t know if the President has the appetite for the increase of the host community fund from 3% to 5%. Even though the amendment he sent to the NASS is strictly for the effective administration of the Act, if the host community was an item on his agenda he would have added it.
“Any member from the oil producing states will have to come with an amendment for the increase as I am not sure we can add the request for increase to this executive bill seeking for a specific amendment.”
The issue of 3% is a bitter pill to swallow-Hon. Ben Igbakpa representing Ethiope East/Ethiope West of Delta State
“The President has brought an amendment that has to do with the governance structure of the Act to cater for all the geopolitical zones. The President is filing kind of on the vexation and contentious 3 % issue does not mean that the House cannot try it to see if it can go this time. But you know there has to be a lot of engagements, discussions. So that we can all be on the same page but the truth is it an opportunity to right the wrong.
“We will meet, discuss and try to take a strategy to reach out to other areas because the issue of that 3 % is a very bitter pill to swallow.
“That is a bill that has suffered so many years of neglect. Now, we were all determined that this time, let’s passed it. No law is carved on stone no matter how good you think they are. I wouldn’t subscribed to the notion that it was hurriedly passed. There was a Committee and the Committee went round the country, looking for input from the people. The question I know people would ask is was the input from the public especially the people of the Niger Delta? Well, that’s another kettle of fish. But to say that the bill was hurriedly passed is not true. It was considered expedient then.
“Now, the President in his wisdom considers that if the act is to stand the test of time, the governance structure will be amended to carry every part of the country along. It doesn’t mean it was passed in a hurry. It’s one bill that has been there over the years.”