From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Chief Timipre Sylva has drummed up support for the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) from the Niger Delta region.
Sylva who spoke over the weekend in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State during a meeting with his kinsmen under the Nembe Ke Congress emphasise the importance of the PIA as it is to the development of host communities.
During the meeting with the theme “Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021: Gains and Gaps for Host Communities,” Sylva urged host communities in the Niger Delta region to accept the 3%
annual operating expenditure of oil companies set for the Host Communities Development Trust Fund as enshrined in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
According to him, stakeholders in the Niger Delta opposed to the three per cent royalty for host communities should not forget that the region is currently enjoying 13% derivation and the developmental intervention of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He noted that after several years of cries of marginalisation from the region, President Muhammadu Buhari has taken important steps to redress the injustice done to the Niger Delta region.
Sylva enjoined representatives of host communities to see the three per cent royalty given to them as an improvement and progress made.
‘Some stakeholders from our region are saying the three per cent royalty to host communities is not enough.
‘In the beginning, what we had was 0.5 per cent derivation, later it got to 1.5 per cent but today we have 13% for states in addition to the NDDC. The three per cent royalty in the PIA should be seen as an additional stream of income to us.
‘One of the provisions of the PIA is the Environmental Management Trust Fund, which will be used to clean and remediate our environment from the exploration activities of oil companies. I feel we have made progress. Before the law was passed it was zero per cent; now we have three per cent.
‘We can manage the one we have now, later we think about demanding more. There is an adage that says ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’
The Chairman of the organising committee of the town hall meeting, Dr Dennis Otiotio-Odoni, commended President Buhari and Sylva for the passage of the PIA.
He disclosed that the objective of the meeting is to interface with the Minister of State for Petroleum, who is a son of Nembe ethnic stock to appraise the PIA and the benefits accruable to host communities in Nembe Se.
In his remarks, President of the Nembe Se Congress, Prof Godwin-Egein, while lauding the Minister for honouring the invitation of the body, commended him for his exploits in the petroleum industry and for attracting developmental projects to the Nembe-Brass clime.
Egein stated that projects such as the Brass fertiliser and petrochemical company and the Atlantic refinery will add to the economic fortunes of host communities in Nembe Se.