By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The Board of the Ijaw Diaspora Council, IDC, has demanded immediate reversal of Marginal Fields bid and award including the controversial Water Resources Bill as part of its resolutions reached following its emergency meeting over issues affecting the Ijaw nationality back home in Nigeria.

The resolutions were contained in a statement signed by the President and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Ijaw Diaspora Council, Prof Mondi Gold.

According to the IDC, the issue of the 49 Marginal Fields awards was currently a case against the Federal Government at the High Court sitting in Yenagoa, which the government has disobeyed the Court.

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The statement reads in part, ” The Board of the Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC) met on Friday 23rd July 2022, deliberated, and agreed on the following resolutions: Petroleum Industry Act: The board frowned at the 3% of operational expenses allocated to the Host Community Trust Fund for the oil bearing communities and advocate that it be reviewed to 10 Percent.

“The Ijaw Diaspora Board also demands that the various organs envisaged under the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) for administration of the Host Community Fund be inaugurated.

“However, the Act should be swiftly amended to put indigenes of host communities in charge of them, rather than the current provisions that vest the powers of appointment and control of the Host Community Fund structures in the operating companies, thereby leaving the destiny of host communities to the whims and caprices of oil companies who are mere tenants.

“The Ijaw Diaspora seeks the speedy amendment and implementation of these provisions through the establishment of the Host Communities Development Trust to aid in developing the economic and social infrastructure of communities in petroleum-producing areas such as the Niger Delta.

“Decommissioning and Abandonment Fund: In the same vein, we encourage the setting up of the Decommissioning and Abandonment Fund (DAF) to maintain and manage the Licensees and Lessees to be held by reputable financial institutions in an escrow account, accessible to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission or and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority.

“The fund is to be used to pay decommissioning and abandonment costs based on the yearly decommissioning and abandonment plan.

“Marginal Fields: The recent Marginal Fields bid round and award, without first addressing the continuing environmental devastation of the Niger Delta by the oil industry, is condemned.

“It is made worse because the 49 awards for more than 200 billion naira or $477 million were made in clear disobedience to the pending court order against it by the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

“We ask the Federal Government to cancel the bid round and make the process comply with the court order and equitable to the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality and other people and environment of the Niger Delta region.

“Water Resources Bill: The Water Resources Bill presently in the House of Representatives is against the interest of the Ijaw people and the entire Niger Delta especially sections 22 – 31 which give absolute powers to the commission not to be questioned and has power over the surface and underground waters and adjoining lands.

“One of the provisions in the bill is that it seeks to compel Nigerians to obtain permits and pay taxes to the federal government like oil and gas operators before they drill boreholes in their backyards.

“It also seeks to cede ownership of waterways, river banks and others to the federal government, which is against the Land use act that vests these powers with the state governor to administer land.”

The group also wants establishment of the  Bayelsa State Tourism Development Endowment Fund to generate well-paying employment.

It also added, the Council wants earliest possible completion of the Ijaw Diaspora Village in Ijaw land that would improve Bayelsa State’s reputation on national, continental, and international levels.

Also part of its resolutions was the building and completion of the Oloibiri Museum and Research Center, which it described as “the most significant and illustrious oil and gas town in the nation.”

However, the Council called on states and federal governments to collaborate with foreign investors and its friends in order for the Ijaw Nation to expand.

On the he Nembe-Brass Road, the Council pointed, “This project that the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State has begun should be completed without delay by the federal government using the taxes it receives from oil and gas companies, particularly Agip.

“Presidential Amnesty Program: The Ijaw Diaspora demand the immediate transfer of the Presidential Amnesty Program from Abuja to Bayelsa State.

“Ijaw Political Leaders: Politicians must take into account concerns that go beyond party objectives.

“We shall no longer tolerate unsolved grievances and fragmentation in the Ijaw area because of egocentric political interests.”

However, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, had recently cleared that the National Water Resources Bill is not to grab land or resources from the riverine communities.

Adamu said the Bill is basically to protect the people, especially in the Niger Delta region, and added that 96 per cent of the Bill is already existing laws and note has federal government stopped anybody from using the rivers but it is out to regulate those using surface and groundwater with impunity and have deprived the government of revenue generation for the development and provision of water to the people.

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