PIB: South south leaders reject 3% host communities bill.

Rejection and outrage Thursday greeted the National Assembly’s endorsement of three per cent contributions to the host communities’ development trust fund in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

Niger Delta and stakeholders slammed the federal lawmakers for the decision.

They said the provision was grossly unfair to the goose that lays the golden eggs.

They urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reject it and make it at least five per cent.

Those who condemned the three per cent provision include the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), the Ibibio Youth Council and the Movement for the Survival of Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND).

PANDEF rejected the provision, threatening to mobilise the Niger Delta people for a protest.

Its National Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Ibokessien, said leaders of host communities would meet to deliberate on the issue.

PANDEF National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said the group was disappointed with the development.

“PANDEF is grossly disappointed with the complete disregard and insensibility of the National Assembly to the concerns and outcry of the Niger Delta region over the three per cent that was appropriated for the Host Communities Trust Fund.

“It is surprising, but to some extent, we are not totally surprised because it is part of the conspiracy of the Nigerian state against the Niger Delta people.

“The Niger Delta and the leadership of PANDEF will meet to respond appropriately. But let this nation know that this fraudulent abuse of the rights of Niger Delta people will not be tolerated forever,” Robinson said.

The INC and the IYC, in a joint statement, described the decision as shocking and proof that the lawmakers were obstacles to the development of the Niger Delta region, where most host communities are located.

The statement, signed by the INC President Prof. Benjamin Okaba and the IYC leader, Peter Timothy Igbifa, said the Senate had by its decision deepened the injustice, inequity and unfairness threatening the country’s unity.

The statement said it stood logic in the head that host communities sustaining the country were only qualified to receive a paltry three per cent of the entire resources from their domains despite suffering untold hardship, deprivation, marginalisation and poverty arising from the activities of oil companies.

It reads in part: “We totally reject the decision of the Senate. It cannot stand. But if it is allowed to fly, it is just proof that the entire Niger Delta, which has been at the receiving end of the activities of oil companies, sustaining the country economically, stands no chance of developing in this country.

“This decision will reinforce our agitation for resource control, self-determinism and true federalism. In the interests of equity, justice and fairness, we appeal to the Senate to reverse its decision. We earlier considered 10 per cent as small, five per cent as manageable but three per cent as a no-go area

This insensitive position is yet another crack on the already failing Nigerian project that can only be cured by the adoption of true federalism and resource control.

“The Ijaw nation shall resist this and other obnoxious state policies and laws legally and otherwise.”

HOSTCOM National President, High Chief Benjamin Tamaramebi, said the three per cent recommendation was wicked and insensitive.

He believes 10 per cent equity for host communities would have guaranteed the safety of oil facilities as the people would have seen themselves as part owners of the oil business.

He said: “This is a sad commentary. The betterment of civil development has been denied outrightly without recourse to critical stakeholders which we are.

“It is so sad that they feel that host communities are useless and do not deserve anything.

“The moral question for the National Assembly members is whether they have any empathy for the aborigines of the Niger Delta whose environment has been desecrated. There is God. If this bill is good for all concerned, let God judge.”

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