From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has proposed a 10 per cent revenue sharing formula for host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Governor Diri, who stated this during his remarks at a town hall meeting on the bill with members of the National Assembly and stakeholders in Yenagoa, the state capital, declared that the 2.5 per cent revenue proposed for host communities was grossly inadequate and unacceptable to the people of the Niger Delta.
The governor contended if the National Assembly members see firsthand the level of environmental degradation and its attendant effects on the people, they would not hesitate to increase the revenue formula to 10 per cent.
The Bayelsa governor, in a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, was quoted as saying that the PIB was critical in addressing issues such as unemployment, lack of transparency in the oil and gas sector, the militarisation of oil production, skills acquisition and marginalisation of oil-producing states.
He decried the undue delay in the passage and implementation of the bill for about 14 years, urging members of the National Assembly to ensure its passage to engender peace and development in the region and the country as a whole.
Governor Diri expressed regret that oil communities that bear the brunt of oil production were given no consideration while multinational oil companies and the federal government were given more attention in the bill, stressing that such a situation was not in the interest of the people.
‘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,’ the governor remarked.
‘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.
In his speech, Deputy Chairman, House Ad Hoc Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill, Hon Victor Nwokolo, said the PIB was from the executive arm, aimed at reforming the oil and gas industry.
In his presentation, the Chairman of the Bayelsa 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 inclusion of rights of host communities.
He also expressed displeasure with a provision of the bill in respect to the people responsible for protecting oil facilities, saying that the provision had already criminalised them.
The spokesman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Ebilade Ekerefe, said life the expectancy of the Niger Delta people had significantly reduced as a result of the effects of gas flaring in a region that contributes significantly to the economic base of the country.