By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
Following the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill to Law on the 16th August, 2021, the Ijaw Community Abuja/Northern Nigeria has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Hon Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva for accenting of the PIA.
The Ijaw community in a statement delivered by its chairman, Comr Success Jack in Abuja on Monday, said that going forward, it would be wise to convene a ‘think tank’ of regional leaders, to craft a chapter/framework for future engagements and pursue it vigorously through all conventional and legal means.
The statement reads, “History was made on the 16th August, 2021, when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the petroleum industry bill into law. It becomes exigent therefore, to make the following points dangerously clear:
“That we are very grateful and wish to thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the Hon Minister of State Petroleum Resources, His Excellency Timipre Sylva for the will and courage put in, to seeing the PIB transform to PIA.
“We are grateful because, this law is the first of its kind that structures the rights of the Niger Delta people and places our rights to benefits of the Oil and Gas industry on first line charge, drawing directly from source as co-owners of the industry, not subject to secondary approvals or the whims and caprices of politicians and uncertain profitability factors otherwise of the industry.
“Going forward, it would be wise for us to convene a think tank of regional leaders, to craft a charter/framework for future engagements and pursue it vigorously through all conventional and legal means.
The group further said that the law, through the mechanisms imbued in the host community fund, will eliminate the opaque excuses of host communities exclusion.
The group however urged all Governors and National Assembly members from the Niger-Delta to deply the much required synergy towards achieving the 10% host community benchmark, assuring that the group will not rest on its oars to ensure there is a better concession on further amendments.
“It is also important to state that this law through the mechanisms imbued in chapter three for the host Communities fund, the opaque political excuses of host Communities exclusion has been totally eliminated. A situation where funds accruing to the Communities has never been directly and solely applied to them before now.
“It is further instructive to state that, though the 3% allocated to host Communities is a far cry from the basic minimum expectation, we would not rest on our oars, but continue to push for better concessions through further amendments at the national assembly.
“May we at this juncture, use this medium to call on all Governors and national assembly members from the Niger Delta to bond together, forge a united front, undertake vigorous political lobbying to help us attain the minimum 10% required for host Communities, ” the statement added
“We advise all aggrieved Niger Deltans to now channel their dissatisfaction, to the national assembly where it should truly lie, because it is no longer a bill but a law now and as such can only be amended.
“The composition and structure of the boards of both, ‘the Authority’ and ‘the Commission’, the necessity, size and volume of the frontier development fund, the proper definition of Host Communities etc are on all very crucial areas begging for further interrogation and we must undertake to do so, at the national assembly immediately.
Lastly, the group called on Niger-Deltans across the region to realize that “$500M denied us for over two decades would have amounted to more than $10B directly in the hands of ordinary citizens in our villages, giving us the power to craft our budget and determine the pace of development in our villages and not politicians; while we continued agitating for more. All that, we have lost and cannot gain back because we were not thinking.
“May history be kind to every act we commit today, in good conscience, especially for this singular act that lights the torch of prosperity for endless generations of our people, ” the statement further added
The statement was signed by Comrade Success Jack (Chairman), Chief Onimim Quakers (former Chairman) Mrs Toniemi Jonathan, Comrade Afeleke John, Comrade Boma P. Jack (Assistant Secretary-General) amongst others