NewsOil & GasPoliticsPIB: How Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Frustrated Bid for 5% Allocation to Host Communities

ABUJA — A former Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to withhold his assent to the Petroleum Industry Bill that was recently passed by the National Assembly.

The Senator representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District in the National Assembly said there was the need to review the proposed legislation to accommodate the five percent allocation to the host communities.

Dickson made this position known on Thursday while addressing journalists in Abuja.

He said, “We believe that there should be a review of the legislation. There shouldn’t be a signature yet. President Buhari shouldn’t assent to it yet.

“It should be delayed for a more consultative and inclusive work so that while trying to solve problems, you don’t create more problems.

“If the President has not guaranteed security in the North-East, South-East, South-West, and North-West, it will be against the national interest to open another frontier of conflicts perhaps in the only region that is enjoying relative stability because of the policies that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua initiated.”

The former governor lamented that the leadership of the Senate, led by Senator Ahmed Lawan, frustrated the efforts of the South-South senators in getting the supports of their colleagues from other regions to approve the five percent host communities’ equity share.

He explained that the action of Lawan-led leadership to invite the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, to the Red chambers made senators from other regions withdraw their support for the five percent allocation.

He said, “Senator Thompson Sekibo and I were mandated to reach out to other senators who are not in our region and we did. We spoke to most of them and they all supported us for 5 per cent.

“Before we took that deliberation and the vote, the Minister of petroleum and the GMD of NNPC were invited to give us the executive perspective.

“They told us that it is either we agree to 2.5 per cent or no investment.

“So, I can feel how most members who had earlier given us their commitment felt when they heard the tough position by the executive.

“The minister said there won’t be investment inflow if we approve anything higher than the 2.5 per cent. There was no room for any interrogation, so they left and we started the consideration.”

Dickson revealed that the bill proposed 10 percent for the host communities and other 10 percent for frontier development when it was introduced to the National Assembly by the administration of the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua.

He said, “Unfortunately, the bill could not be passed then. The 9th Assembly has been able to pass it but we have to get it right.

“I am not happy with the three per cent that was eventually passed. Most of us disagree completely and that was why I led my other colleagues from the South-South to stage a walk out.

“The argument was that the investors would not come if more than three per cent was approved.

“However I want to state that if the host communities are not happy, the investors will not come.

“Let us be very careful, and that is why I am of the view that the three per cent is not helpful to the host communities, not helpful to the oil companies and also, not helpful to the country.”

The senator added that it was not too later for a review the three percent allocation “so that we can have the buy in of the of the host communities.”

He added that there was nothing wrong with appropriating money for frontier basin but it should not be up to 30 percent.

“There are several frontier basins in the country. I know it serves the national interest in exploring more basins but why allocating 30 per cent of NNPC profit to oil exploration when the desire of the host communities were not met.

“They were denied the 5 per cent and this will raise security concerns because the Nigerian security operatives will be overwhelmed and they will need money to work.

“Meanwhile if we said five per cent and the producing communities are on the same page with the government, there will be a secured and  safe environment.”

Bada Yusuf Amoo (Correspondent)

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