From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Proceedings at the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was stalled, yesterday, as host communities engaged themselves in a free for all over leadership tussle.
Chairman, House Ad-hoc Committee on PIB, Tahir Monguno, who presided over the public hearing had, at the commencement of the session, announced that the host communities will be represented by one person.
However, a struggle by the various oil host communities from the Niger Delta, who had converged for the public hearing, over who should speak degenerated to a free for all, which stalled proceeding for several minutes.
Nevertheless, calm was restored after police personnel, at the venue, intervened in the matter. Thereafter, Monguno announced that the host communities would only adopt their memoranda and exit the podium and promised the panel would visit various communities in the coast region to properly engage them.
The leader of one of the parties, involved in the fight, Benjamin Tamaranebi, said the fight was about the demand for 10 percent equity shares by the host communities.
The Federal Government had proposed 2.5 percent as royalty for the host communities in the PIB.
Tamaranebi, who claimed to be the national president of the host communities, told journalists that the 2.5 percent proposed as royalty for host communities was inadequate.
“We are here for the public hearing on behalf of host communities of Nigeria producing oil and gas. I am the president. And all what we are asking for and all what we are here for is nothing more than 10 percent equity share holding. We vehemently go against 2.5 percent operating cost.
“I think it is not necessary for me to talk about whether we fought or not. You know all about the Niger Delta region. There is no king. All are comrades. You know about us. When Niger Deltans gather together, everything is bound to happen. All we are agitating for 10 percent equity. The fight is because of 10 percent equity. So, we are not fighting because of any other thing,” he said.
On his part, Gouha Ukhorumah, who represented the Offshore Gbaramatu and Coastal Host Communities in Warri South Local Government of Delta State, said the fracas was basically between two factions that referred to themselves as host communities allegedly without a specific kingdom or local government as area of coverage.