Nigeria: Where Were You? How Disunity Among Niger Delta Lawmakers Harmed PIB

22 July 2021

Senators from Oil-producing states

* Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Senate President, Delta Central, APC

* Christopher Ekpenyong, Akwa Ibom North-West, PDP

* Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abia South, PDP

* Betty Apiafi, Rivers West, PDP

* Rochas Okorocha, Imo West, APC

* Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa West, PDP

* Sandy Onor, Cross River Central, PDP

* Frank Ibezim, Imo North, APC

* Akon Ayakenyi, Akwa Ibom South, PDP

* Theordore Orji, Abia Central, PDP

* Bassey Akpan, Akwa Ibom North, PDP

* Cleopas Moses, Bayelsa Central, PDP

* Robert Boroffice, Ondo North, APC

* Orji Kalu, Abia North, APC

* Barinada Mpigi, Rivers South-East, PDP

* Francis Alimikhena, Edo North, APC

* Nicholas Tofowomo, Ondo South, PDP

* Peter Nwaoboshi, Delta North, APC

* Boibarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, Bayelsa east, PDP

* Stephen Odey, Cross River North, PDP

* Matthew Urhoghide, Edo South, PDP

* George Sekibo, Rivers East, PDP

* Ezenwa Onyewuchi, Imo East, PDP

* Henry Bassey, Cross River South, PDP

* Ayo Akinyelure, Ondo Central, PDP

* Clifford Ordia, Edo Central, PDP

* James Manage, Delta South, PDP

Reps from oil-

producing states

* Abiola Makinde, Ondo, Ondo East/Ondo West, SDP

* Adedayo Omolafe, Ondo, Akure North/South, PDP

*Adejoro Adeogun, Ondo, Akoko South East/South West, APC

* Adelegbe Oluwatimehin, Ondo, Owo/Ose, APC

* Agbedi Frederick, Bayelsa, Sagbama/Ekeremor, PDP

* Alex Egbona, Cross River, Yakurr/Abi, PDP

* Aniekan Umanah, Akwa Ibom, Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika, PDP

* Awaji-inombek Abiante, Rivers, Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro, PDP

* Bede Eke, Imo, Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala, PDP

* Benjamin Kalu, Abia, Bende, APC

* Benson Igbakpa, Delta, Ethiope, PDP

* Boma Goodhead, Rivers, Akuku-Toru/Asari-Toru, PDP

* Boniface Emerengwa, Rivers, Ikwerre/ Emohua, PDP

* Bright Gogo, Rivers, Okrika/Ogu-Bolo, PDP

* Chinyere Igwe, Rivers, Port Harcourt 2, PDP

* Chisom Dike, Rivers, Tai/Eleme/Oyigbo, PDP

* Christopher Agibe, Cross River, Ikom/Boki, PDP

* Chike Okafor, Imo, Ehime-Mbano/ihitte Uboma/Obowo, APC

* Daniel Asuquo, Cross River, Akamkpa/Biase, PDP

* DarlingtonNwokocha, Abia, Isiala Ngwa North/South, PDP

* Dennis Idahosa, Edo, Ovia South/West-Ovia North/East, APC

* Doctor Farah Dagogo, Rivers, Degema/Bonny, PDP

* Dumnamene Dekor, Rivers, Khana/Gokana, PDP

* Emeka Chinedu, Imo, Ahiazu Mbaise/Ezinihitte, PDP

* Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo, Akwa Ibom, Ikono/Ini, PDP

* Ereyitomi Thomas, Delta, Warri, PDP

* Essien Ayi, C/River, Akpabuyo/Bakassi/Calabar South, PDP

* Eta Edim, Cross River, Calabar Munincipal/Odukpani, PDP

* Etaba Irom, Cross River, Obubra/Etung, PDP

* Francis Uduyok, A/Ibom, Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obolo, PDP

* Francis Waive, Delta, Ughelli North/South/Udu, APC

* Gboluga Ikengboju, Ondo, Okitipupa/Irele, PDP

* Henry Nwawuba, Imo, Mbaitolu/Ikeduru, PDP

* Henry Archibong, Akwa Ibom, Itu/Ibiono Ibom, PDP

*Iheonunekwu Nwuzi, Rivers, Etche/Omuma, PDP

* Ikenna Elezieanya, Imo, Owerri Municipal/Owerri North/West, PDP

* Israel Goli, Bayelsa, Brass/Nembe, APC

* Jarigbe Jarigbe, Cross River, Ogoja/Yala, PDP

* Jerry Alagbaoso, Imo, Orlu/Oru East/Orsu, PDP

* Joe Edionwele, Edo, Esan Central/West/Igueben, PDP

* Johnson Oghuma, Edo, Etsako East/West/Central, APC

* Jude Ise-idehen, Edo, Egor/Ikpoba-Okha, PDP

* Julius Pondi, Delta, Burutu, PDP

* Julius Ihonvbere, Edo, Owan West/East, APC

* Kenneth Chikere, Rivers, Port Harcourt 1, PDP

* Kingsley Uju, Imo, Oguta/Ohaji-Egbema/Oru West, APC

* Kingsley Chinda, Rivers, Obio/Akpor, PDP

* Kolade Akinjo, Ondo, Eseodo/Ilaje, PDP

* Michael Enyong, A/Ibom, Uyo/Uruan/Nsit Ata/Ibeskip Asutan, PDP

* Ndudi Elumelu, Delta, Aniocha North/Aniocha South/ Oshimili N&S, PDP

* Nicholas Mutu, Delta, Bomadi/Patani, PDP

* Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Abia, Isuikwato/Umunneochi, APC

* Nse Ekpenyong, A/Ibom, Oron/Mbo/Okobo/UrueOffong/Oruko/Udung-Uko, PDP

* Nsikak Ekong, A/Ibom, Ikot Ekpene/ Essien Udim/ Obot Akara, PDP

* Oberuakpefe Afe, Delta, Opke/Sapele/Uvwie, PDP

* Obua Fred, Bayelsa, Ogbia, PDP

* Ochiglegor Idagbo, Cross River, Bekwarra/Obudu/Obanliku, PDP

* Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Ondo, Akoko North East/West, APC

* Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Edo, Oredo, PDP

* Onofiok Akpan Luke, A/Ibom, Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium, PDP

* Ossai Nicholas Ossai, Delta, Ndokwa/Ukwani, PDP

* Ozurigbo Ugonna, Imo, Isu/Njaba/Nkwerre/Nwangele, APC

* Paschal Obi, Imo, Ideato North /South, APM

* Patrick Aisowieren, Edo, Orhionmwon/Uhunmwode, APC

* Patrick Ifon, Akwa Ibom, Eket/Onna/Esit Eket/Ibeno, PDP

* Prestige Ossy, Abia, Aba North/South, APGA

* Preye Oseke, Bayelsa, Southern Ijaw, APC

* Samuel Onuigbo, Abia, Ikwuano/Umuahia North/South, PDP

* Samuel Akinfolarin, Ondo, Ileoluji-Okeibo/Odigbo, APC

* Sergius Ogun, Edo, Esan North-East/Esan South- East, PDP

* Solomon Adaelu, Abia, Obingwa/Osisioma/Ugbunagbo, PDP

* Solomon T Bob, Rivers, Ahoada-East/Abua/Odual, PDP

* Stephen Sinikiem Azaiki, Bayelsa, Yenagoa/Kolokuna/Opokuma, PDP

* Uchechukwu Nnam-Obi, Rivers, Ahoada West/Ogba Egbema, PDP

* Uko Nkole, Abia, Arochukwu/Ohafia, PDP

* Unyime Idem, Akwa Ibom, Ukanafun/Orukanam, PDP

* Uzoma Abonta, Abia, Ukwa East/Ukwa West, PDP

* Victor Nwokolo, Delta, Ika, PDP

IF the 27 Senators and 78 House of Representatives members from the Niger-Delta and oil producing states had presented a united front, the recently passed controversial Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, would have had better package for the oil-producing states.

Among other provisions, the PIB authorised a stingy 3 per cent and 5 per cent for the Host Communities Trust Fund by the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, while 30 per cent was permitted for development of Frontier basins.

The matter has been made worse by the recommendation of the National Assembly's 54-member joint Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Upstream and Gas Resources which came up with a harmonised figure of 3 per cent for host communities.

The committee has as members 18 lawmakers from oil [producing states, including 2 from Edo; 2 from Ondo; 3 from Rivers; 2 from Akwa Ibom; 2 from Ondo; 2 from Delta; 2 from Cross Rivers; 2 from Bayelsa and one from Imo.

Leaders and stakeholders of Niger-Delta have, since the passage of the PIB, voiced their anger over what one of them described as a pregnant elephant giving birth to a rat.

Getting the 27 senators to speak on the controversial bill was more difficult than getting the biblical camel to pass through the eye of the needle as most of them have refused to open up on what a Niger-Deltan described as their poor representation of their region in the matter. Most of the senators from Niger-Delta approached by Vanguard declined comments on the issue.

Indeed, the comments of a few senators who spoke to Vanguard showed that the lawmakers were not united in their approach to the PIB legislation.

Niger-Delta senators, who shared their views on the PIB include Christopher Ekpenyong representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in Akwa Ibom State; Matthew Urhoghide representing Edo South Senatorial district; Nicholas Tofowomo, Ondo South senatorial district; Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Clifford Ordia, PDP, Edo Central; and Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum, Upstream, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom North East.

They spoke as Former National Chairman, Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, HM Charles Ayemi-Botu, termed the proposed 30 per cent Frontier Basins exploration fund in the PIB as unguarded robbery and secret re-annexation of the oil and gas producing communities of Niger-Delta.

Also, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources, who represents Southern Ijaw federal constituency, Bayelsa state, Hon Preye Oseke, said that the PIB was an executive bill and the originators had their own thinking of what they want, while they as parliamentarians engaged the people to get a good outcome.

I boycotted the debate in protest --Senator Tofowomo

The senator representing Ondo South senatorial district, Nicholas Tofowomo, said he was angry over the PIB debate and the provisions. " l was very angry about it and I boycotted the debate as a sign of protest. Though I can only speak for myself. But I tell you, many of the senators from the oil communities walked out from the debate in anger and boycotted it. But it is not yet over because both houses have not concluded. The two houses will still have to sit down and agree.

Meanwhile, Senator Ajayi Boroffice representing Ondo North Senatorial district declined comments when contacted through his Media Aide, Kayode Fakuyi.

Also, the Senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial district, Senator, Ago Akinyelure, didn't pick all the calls put across to him.

N'Delta senators didn't endorse 30% for frontier basins --Ekpenyong

Indeed, Senator Christopher Ekpenyong said that Niger-Delta senators never consented to 30 per cent of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, profit for development of Frontier Basins as contained in the new Petroleum Industry Bill.

Senator Ekpenyong asserted that they only agreed that frontier basin fund should be increased from the initial 10 per cent to 20 per cent while the Host Communities Trust Fund should be pushed from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent.

His words: "You know the Petroleum Industry Bill is an executive bill. So every content therein was drafted by the executive. And I can assure you that Niger Delta senators did not allow 30 per cent of NNPC profit to be used for oil exploration, we opposed the 30 per cent.

"When it was presented, we only agreed that it should be increased to 20 per cent. And our thinking was that by supporting the increase to 20 per cent, they (majority) will also support us to get at least 5 per cent approval for the Host Communities Trust Fund. You know politics is about give and take.

"But when we started the battle to ensure that something substantial was approved for the Host Communities Trust fund to ameliorate the environment that had been destroyed over the decades, they brought in the politics that International Oil companies, IOCs, will not accept it, so we did not allow 30 per cent for frontier basins," Ekpenyong assured.

Frontier basins fund not only in the North --Urhoghide

However, Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, who defended the 30 per cent for frontier basins, said: "The much talked about 30 per cent for frontier basins exploration activities is what comes from profit in oil from NNPC Limited which will be created by the provisions of the intended law.

"Another point of correction is that frontier basins exist all over the country presently, not only in the North. Today we have frontier basin in the South- East, we have frontier basins in the South West and could still be found in the South- South where crude oil will be explored or prospected."

He continued: "30% profit oil from NNPC Limited will be dedicated for the exploration of new acreages within the Frontier Basins. The Frontier Basins are all areas across the country where there are exploration activities going on and even others yet to be discovered.

"Frontier Basins are in the North East, North West, North Central, South East, South West, and South South. So, Frontier Basins are not the exclusive preserve of the Northern part of Nigeria but also the Southern part of Nigeria. The total amount from projections is about 350m Dollars in a year.

"Again this money is an investment which will be recovered from the business and given back to the investors and NNPC LTD in ratios of who invested what. 3% or 5% of annual Operating Costs of the oil companies (IOCs,NOCs, etc) is to be allocated to the Host communities for their own development administered through the Host Development Trust Fund.

"It is projected that 3% will give the host communities about $520m in a year and 5% will rake in about $850m for the host communities. In addition, all the 100% penalties realisable from gas flaring shall be given exclusively to the host communities for their environmental remediation and well-being."

Frontier basins fund's for all Nigerians --Ordia

Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Clifford Ordia, PDP, Edo Central said: "First and foremost, the 30% for the Frontier basins is for all Nigerians, not a particular section of the country. It can be South-East, South-West, South-South.

"At least, the opinion is that you cannot push an investor to where they do not have very large quantity of oil, it is not something you can manipulate because we are looking at the cost and benefits in all business transactions. There is no financial investor that will go and spend money to explore for oil where there is no oil.

"That aspect of the Bill will cover all the states of the federation. National Assembly has not completed work on the Host Communities Fund, you know that the Senate passed 3% and the House of Representatives, 5%. We have just set up a harmonization committee to meet with the House of Representatives so that we arrive at a common rate and until that is done, one cannot really say something on that.

"The Host Communities also have the remediation fund which should be managed by the Multinationals in case of gas flaring and others. This will be domiciled in the Host Communities so that they can manage it themselves. I think that is a win-win situation.

It is just that people want to compare what is happening now to the political struggle between the North and the South. When you try to juxtapose that, it will not work because they are two different things. At the end of the day, all things being equal, what will come will favour us."

Matter not closed, host communities may get more --Akpan

On his part, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, PDP, Akwa Ibom North East said: "It is not correct that 3% of profit goes to the host communities. Please wait until harmonization report by the joint committee of the National Assembly is presented and considered at plenary."

We did our best --Rep Oseke

Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources, who represents Southern Ijaw federal constituency, Bayelsa state, Hon Preye Oseke, said: "If you say parliamentarians did not listen or had engagement with the people, it is not true. We had an aggregation of all the thinking of the people because it is an executive bill. The bill was not initiated by parliament. There are initiators of the bill that have a thinking.

"What we did is aligning the desires of the people with that of initiators of the bill, which is the work of the parliament because we represent the people. I personally took time to send a draft bill to virtually all stakeholders of government in the Niger Delta states and also Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, leaders of thought in the Niger Delta. I have to be nationalistic in my views but not forgetting that our people require a restructured Nigeria that will give us the needed resource control or an upgrade of the ownership and control of the resources accruing from our people. These are realities we cannot run away from because we are a country.

"I do not want to go into issues of politics, people have different opinions, I also have my opinion as somebody from a host community - how successive state institutions not national institutions have also denied host communities the necessary intervention.

"I will try to confine myself to realities of criticisms that have trailed the PIB and give explanation as to why these issues are before public domain. The issue of resource control as a Niger Deltan is one that every Ijaw man embraces. I am from Ogboinbiri, if resources are controlled, who benefits more?

"So, you cannot cry more than the bereaved. If you talk about resource control, I should be the one at the forefront telling you that most of the agitators in the Niger-Delta are not from crude oil producing communities and when they stumble into government, they forget that the crude oil is coming from somewhere, but that is a discourse for another day.

"I do not want to go into that because I also have my very strong reservation on issues of application of NDDC funds, application of the 13 per cent derivation funds by successive administrations in the Niger Delta states.

"I also have my reservations as to how the resource coming from the Niger Delta is being managed in the national distribution of funds."

Frontier basin fund, covert re-colonization of N'Delta host communities --HM Ayemi-Botu

HM Ayemi-Botu, Pere of Seimbiri Kingdom, Delta state, in an interview with Vanguard, advised the National Assembly to jettison the 30 per cent frontier basin fund as the North-East Development Commission and HYPEDEC were already receiving 13 per cent from oil and gas proceeds and review the paltry three or five per cent to oil and gas producing communities, which bear the brunt of oil production.

His words: "The recent passage of the mutilated PIB with the imposition of 30 per cent Frontier Basin exploration fund is an open thievery, exploitative and clandestine re-colonization of the oil and gas producing communities of the Niger Delta by the National Assembly, majorly of the northern extraction bequeathed by British colonialists, their mentors.

"Yes, British colonialists enslaved the then Southern Protectorate to the Northern Protectorate through the process of an unholy treaty (amalgamation), coined name Nigeria and handed over political power to the North through a phantom election in 1959 and subsequently granted Independence in 1960 at the twilight of the British indirect rule. After 61 years, colonization still persists in the country.

"The inconsistent approval of meagre three and five per cents respectively by the Senate and House of Representatives for Host Communities Development is a total mockery, and exposes the sinister intentions of the charade called PIB by a clique that is unmindful, perhaps bereft of ideas of the age- long sufferings and marginalization of host communities that bear the brunt of oil and gas exploitation/exploration in the region for the past 65 years, hence they are putting the cart before the horse.

"It is like milking the cow dry in anticipation of the unborn cow. Otherwise, no responsible lawmaking body or committee will pass such irrational, unpardonable and fraudulent Bill that has generated so much condemnation throughout the country by approving 30 per cent to search for mystery oil in the inland basins and a paltry three - five per cents to the actual producers.

"Assuming the oil and gas wells are exhausted today, then where will they obtain the 30 per cent?Besides, International Oil Companies, IOCs, do not require any funding from the Federal Government or NNPC in their quest for hydrocarbon.

"Since the cat has been let out the bag, the National Assembly should quickly withdraw their obnoxious PIB for upward review to not less than 10 per cent and jettison the 30 per cent, as the HYPEDEC and the Northern-East Development Commission states are getting 13 per cent, courtesy of proceeds from oil and gas.

"Desperate situation must be desperately remedied in that if the anomalies in the wicked and outrageous PIB are not reversed, the only option is to shut down the entire oil and gas installations reminiscent of the 2016 episode, because enough is enough and a stitch in time saves nine."

How bill 'll hurt oil industry --Expert

An oil industry analyst and public affairs commentator, Mr. Jerry Lazarus, said: "The main thrust of the bill is to open up Nigeria's oil and gas industry to investment, strengthen industry governance and regulation to expand, grow and maximize value capture for Nigeria and her citizens. This is long overdue and we must commend the Executive and the National assembly for prioritizing this bill.

"I however, have some concerns about certain provisions of the bill as they affect the downstream. While the bill removed price controls on petroleum products in Section 205, the Senate version of the bill has a clause that constrains market competition by restricting importation of products to only players with local refining capacity. This clearly counters the provision of 205 (1), which states: Subject to the provisions of this Section, from the effective date, wholesale and retail prices of petroleum products shall be based on unrestricted free market pricing conditions.'

He continued: "The inserted Section 317(8) in the Senate bill, states that: '(1) The Authority shall apply the Backward Integration Policy in the downstream petroleum sector to encourage investment in local refining. (2) To support this, licence to import any product shortfalls shall be assigned only to companies with active local refining licences. (3) Import volume to be allocated between participants based on their respective production in the preceding quarter. (4) Such import to be done under NNPC Limited Direct Sale/Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme.(5) To safeguard the health of Nigerians, imported petroleum products shall conform to the Afri-5 specification (50ppm sulphur) as per the ECOWAS declaration of February, 2020 on adoption of the Afri-Fuels Roadmap.'

Duopoly in price deregulated environment

"I think the provisions above will create a duopoly in a price deregulated environment thereby destroying the Nigerian downstream industry as we know it today. It limits importation of all petroleum products, including PMS, diesel, aviation fuel, lubricants, base oil - products which are already deregulated, to only players with local refining capacity.

"In the near term, only NNPC and Dangote will have domestic refining capacity for PMS for instance, so they will be the only importers. This takes the industry back and could not have been the intention of the bill.

"Moving from a state-owned monopoly in a price regulated market to a duopoly in a price deregulated market is taking the industry backward and exposing Nigerians to exploitation and further hardship. This, in my humble view, is not reformatory.

"Rather than seek to protect refiners, we should protect the consumers by liberalizing and expanding supply sources. That is the only way prices will be 'market determined' and consumers pay fair value for the products they buy.

"The viability of local refining is not determined or enhanced by locking out competition, it is rather achieved by price deregulation, which has been done in Section 205. This clause gives statutory unfair advantage to private players rather than through market competition. Indeed, the law and the authorities have an obligation to protect the market (other players including Nigerian entrepreneurs) and the consumers rather than to encourage monopoly/duopoly by locking out competition.

"This clause does not create a level playing field for all players in the sector, and can indeed destroy existing Nigerian businesses that engage in importation of other petroleum products like diesel, Aviation fuel, etc, with attendant loss of jobs and more economic misery for Nigeria and Nigerians.

"Governments all over the world do not create and encourage monopolies or duopolies and that is why anti-trust laws are enacted and enforced to protect industries and consumers. Nigeria should not be doing the reverse. A case can always be made about protectionist policies for nascent or pioneer industries, but this is not the case with a long established, once-thriving Nigerian downstream.

"This clause needs to be expunged from the PIB. The Authority should be left to develop regulations that are fair, inclusive and transparent for petroleum product importation that ensures open and diverse market supply and hence competition. Only then would the objectives of the bill be achieved. It is worth repeating that as price control is being removed, supply must be competitive, inclusive, transparent and seen to encourage efficiency. Then, and only then will Nigerians and Nigerians win."

PIB smuggled into order paper, not yet passed--S'South Reps

In another development, some members of the House of Representatives from the South-South have said the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, was smuggled into the Order Paper, last Thursday, for deliberation.

They also said contrary to widely held opinion that the House passed it, last Thursday, the bill had not been passed.

The lawmakers maintained that the House voted five per cent, and not three per cent for Host Communities Trust Fund, adding that the speaker suspended further deliberation on the matter last Thursday, following undetermined voice voting.

They said members would resume consideration of the PIB when they return from vacation in September.

One of the South-South lawmakers told Vanguard that a ranking Northern representative confessed that the governor of his state and an Emir threatened him, which ostensibly made him to go against the decision of the House.

The lawmakers, who have come under attack for their disappointing representation and defence of the interests of Niger-Delta in the newly ratified PIB, made excuses for their collective role but a number of them tactically evaded calls and WhatsApp inquiries from Vanguard reporters, at the weekend.

Bill smuggled in --Asuquo

Daniel Asuquo, representing Akamkpa/Biase Federal Constituency in Cross River State, the only lawmaker that spoke to Vanguard in the state, said: "That bill was not listed for the day but was smuggled by the deputy speaker. I am not part of it, we walked out when we noticed the illegality and we will do everything to resist it.

"The bill directly impacts on the Niger Delta, which has suffered and gone through a lot on account of its contribution to the development of this country.

"In law making, there are processes to follow and the so-called passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill did not follow the right process and as such cannot stand. I have reported to my constituents whom I represent and they have also rejected it and, therefore, it cannot stand.

Calls and questionnaires sent via WhatsApp to Chris Agibe, Ikom Boki Federal Constituency, Mike Etaba; Obubra/Etung, Essien Ekpenyong; Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi and Eta Mbora, Calabar Municipality, were ignored.

Bill not listed --Agbedi

Speaking on the contentious PIB, Fred Agbedi, representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State, said: "It could not have been passed when it was not listed in the order paper. The speaker and the House resolved on Thursday, July 15, that the conference harmonization committee would meet with the Senate again.

"So, if they could not achieve a change, it would have come complying with the rules of the House by being listed and report laid."

"This was not done and, therefore, it is illegal. Again, it is a vexatious provision and I reject it in its entirety. Definitely, not acceptable to me and the oil producing communities.

"They used the walk out of bipartisan supporters of e-transmission to smuggle in the supposed 3 per cent illegally," he submitted.

Majority had their way --Oseki

Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Preye Oseki, said Niger-Delta lawmakers did what they had to do, but the majority had their way.

The federal lawmaker representing Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State, asserted: "I was in all the sittings and fought for our region. We fought with our colleagues on the first day. But of course, in parliament, the majority will have their way and the minority will have their say."

House passed 5%, not 3% --Dekor

The Chairman, House Committee on Host Communities, Dumnamene Dekor, who hails from Rivers State, said: "I am aware that the bill was passed at 5 per cent by the House of Representatives. I stand by the five per cent which I voted for. Then, they went for conference, led by the Whip of the House.

"When they came back, the man who led those who went for the conference, came to the floor of the House to say his Emir and governor called and threatened him. So he did not toe the position of the House anymore.

"Mohammed Tahir Monguno is from Borno State, he said his Emir and governor called to threaten him. I was also a member of the PIB Committee, the Joint Committee of Senate and Representatives also took a joint position of five per cent.

"So, to my knowledge, what we passed is five per cent. Even on Thursday, last week, as we tried to debate it on the floor of the House, those who stood for five per cent voted and it was clear that five per cent won.

"But the chairman that was assigned was of the opinion that he did not get the position clearly. In any case, whenever there is such a position, you go for voice vote. That voice vote did not go down well. The belief is that the presiding officer recorded it the way it ought not to be.

"The next thing is for him to divide the House, but the House was not divided. In short, Mr. Speaker had to suspend that aspect. We have to go back to that matter and that would be in September. So you are aware that last Thursday, the issue of PIB was suspended by the speaker," he said.

Coup against oil communities

A House of Representatives member from Akwa Ibom, who preferred anonymity, said: "To me, this is a coup against the minority tribes, especially the oil producing states of the federation. If you look at the level of degradation and impoverishment in the region, you will agree with me that the Nigerian state is not fair to us.

"The walkout by members of the minority parties is a reflection of the feelings of the people we represent, that we do not agree with the happenings. It will be tantamount to a deliberate act to undermine the people of the Niger Delta if the bill is signed into law.

"So, we call for further harmonization to iron grey and contentious areas to avoid litigation and backlashes from the region," he said.

Delta lawmakers shun inquiry

None of the House of Representatives members from Delta State spoke to Vanguard on their role on the PIB.

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