The long awaited passage into law of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly will become a reality soon, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Host Oil Communities, Dumnamene Dekor has said.
Dekor who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja said the lawmakers are currently considering all the petitions sent by the various oil communities in the Niger Delta before proceeding to give attention to the passage of the PIB.
The Chairman who represents Rivers State in the National Assembly appealed to Nigerians for patience and understanding by the people of the region in particular and Nigerians at large on the passage into law of the Bill.
He said he was convinced the PIB would bring positive returns to all the stakeholders in the country.
“I also want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians to be patient with parliament. You know, in the process of lawmaking, a whole lot of things are put into consideration. It is agreed, from what the leadership of the House has said, this Bill would soon be passed, and we hope and pray that when it is passed, Mr President would assent to it and it comes into operation. That way, the challenges of those host communities would be reduced, the challenges of the companies themselves would also be reduced. “And government earnings from oil would also increase, which means there will be more money at the disposal of the government for the development in the country.
“Principally, prior to this time, you see all kinds of petitions. Today, I am aware that the gate of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Port Harcourt was blocked for certain demands by those in the community. You also see all kinds of such activities all over the Niger Delta,” the Chairman said.
He said the Committee received several petitions from the host communities which are being studied.
Besides, he said the consultants to the Conmittee are looking at those petitions with a view to ensuring the parties are brought together to resolve the issues in a way that the country and those who live within that part of the country would have a better life.
The committee, he assured, would do its job in a way that would bring glory to Nigerians.
“For me, as Chairman of the committee, I must make it clear that I am Ogoni man from Rivers State and I am sure you are aware the Ogonis have been raped severally. The Ogonis are in fact, a symbol of neglect, symbol of whatever you want to talk about in the industry. So, I don’t think we would want that to happen to any other part of the country. You are aware of the frontier issues.”
Dekor expressed sadness that most of the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta are abidicating their social responsibilities to their host communities.
“Let me make it very clear that a lot of the oil companies are trying to be elusive. When invitations are extended to them, some of them are trying to avoid appearance.
“We would stop at nothing to ensure we use every legislative instrument at our disposal to compel any such erring companies to appear before Nigerians. The House is the House of Nigerians and they are accountable to the people of Nigeria.
“So, I use this opportunity to call on the companies to make hay while the sun is shining, so that before we get to the next stage, after some investigations, which will also come as a result of the interactions, we can have some of them.
He said some of the companies would say they have done corporate social responsibility (CSR) for about 10 companies for N60 million. He said whatever the companies are doing must be with some degree of fairness.
“Looking at other areas where the mandate of the Committee also covers, we will ensure that we cover all the grounds.
“You are also aware that the host communities fund proposed in the PIB is also within the mandate of the Committee. To that extent, I thank all of members for all the support ~given to the committee and hope that we would have a very unique and wonderful relationship through the life of this House.
“I assure the Committee that Nigerians, particularly those in the Niger Delta region, would be better, when we are able to ensure that there is peace in the areas of operation in the Niger Delta.
With that, it means more funds would be available to the Nigerian state”, the Chairman said.
On the threat by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to resume attacks on oil installations in the region, Dekor appealed to the group to sheathe their swords in the interest of peace. “I think the Avengers gave an ultimatum and I would urge them by way of an appeal that the peace we are enjoying in the Niger Delta today, we can improve on it.
“Whatever the grievances are should be brought for reconciliation, because part of what we are doing is to make sure these issues do not come up and by the grace of God, we would do everything humanly possible to make sure that there is a resolution.
“As somebody who comes from the Niger Delta, sometimes you may be challenged, because I understand those threats were given a day or two after some leaders were with Mr. President.
“We would find out exactly what it is and I can tell you that because the Committee has members from virtually all the oil producing states, and in most cases communities.
“So, we would leverage on that and make sure it does not happen. But I call on them, let us uphold the peace that we have for now. And let all issues be laid on the table so that they can be resolved.
“I believe that with this committee and with the PIB coming up, some of those problems would be resolved,” Dekor said.
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