THE Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has expressed displeasure over the Petroleum Industry Bill signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday.
The forum said the rush by the President to sign the Bill even when there were several complaints after its passage by the National Assembly, showed a total disregard for the feelings and concerns of the Niger Delta people.
Speaking to Prime Business Africa, the National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Mr Ken Robinson, said the people of Niger Delta were very sad about the Act which he said was designed to enslave the people of the region.
“It (PIA) is enslavement, an official document making the Niger Delta people slaves to the Integrated Oil Companies (IOCs),” Robinson said.
He described the feeling in most part of Niger Delta since the signing of the Bill to be that of sadness.
He said, “Monday was a sad day for us, for true Niger Deltans and everyone who loves Niger Delta. Don’t be deceived by some of the statements that have been made by people with political loyalty to the president, the fact remains that Niger Delta has been reduced to an environment where people struggle for survival.
“How is the grandmother in Kolama in southern region of Bayelsa feeling? How is the woman in Oron or Idem in Akwa Ibom State feeling about what Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly have done? That they gave us a paltry 3% as host communities development trust fund and then gave the leeway to the companies, the settlers to decide who will be in the board of trustees of those trust fund, who will be in the management team of trust fund, and then of course decide what projects the monies would be applied to, and then not minding the fact that they also gave them leeway to decide to bring someone who is not indigenous to the community into the trust fund board and the management board.”
Robinson said the people were disappointed that all the problems they hoped the Bill would address had not been addressed.
“We had hoped that the Bill and of course the Act would address significantly the issues of infrastructural decay, the issues of neglect and all that we had suffered all these years. So it’s completely unacceptable and as we have said, it shows the attitude of arrogance and disregard on the part of the Nigerian government on Niger Delta People” he said.
He stated that the group would consult widely after which they would come up with the best political and legal response.
Meanwhile, President Buhari today approved a steering committee to oversee the process of implementing the newly signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
Buhari had signed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2021 into law on Monday following his return from London where he attended an education summit.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the steering committee would be headed by the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.
The Petroleum Industry Act provides legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities and related matters.