From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has proposed 10 per cent revenue for host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Diri stated this during his remarks at a town hall meeting on the bill with members of the National Assembly and other stakeholders in Yenagoa.
He said the 2.5 per cent revenue proposed for host communities in the PIB was grossly inadequate and unacceptable to the people of the Niger Delta.
He said if National Assembly members were to see firsthand the level of environmental degradation and its attendant effects on host communities, they would not hesitate to increase it from 10 per cent to a higher figure.
The governor, in a statement by his media aide, Daniel Alabrah, decried the undue delay in the passage and implementation of the bill for about 14 years, and urged members of the National Assembly to ensure its passage to engender peace and development in the region and the country.
“I restate our earlier submission that the 2.5 per cent proposed for the oil producing communities is grossly inadequate and unacceptable to us as a people. In our proposal to you, we asked for 10 per cent for the host communities. When you visit some of the sites where oil is being explored, that bring multi-million dollars to this country, you will even agree with me that we should increase it further from 10 per cent.
“This PIB would cure the unemployment that the oil producing communities cry about. This bill would create jobs, accelerate skills acquisition and remove the opacity that we are seeing today in the oil and gas industry. The whole industry is shrouded somehow in secrecy. If this bill had been passed, billions of naira used in safeguarding oil facilities would have been deployed for development purposes.”
Deputy Chairman, House Ad Hoc Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill, Victor Nwokolo, said the PIB aimed at reforming the oil and gas industry.
Chairman of the state Traditional Rulers Council, represented by the Ibedaowei of Ekpetiama Clan, King Bubaraye Dakolo, recommended that the bill takes into consideration environmental pollution, particularly gas flaring, and ensure the rights of host communities.
Spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Ebilade Ekerefe, said life expectancy in the Niger Delta had significantly reduced as a result of the effects of gas flaring, an indication that the region which contributes a great deal to the economic survival of the country was not properly taken care of.