A former governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson, has warned that the three per cent proposed as equity fund for the host communities in the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) may lead to unrest in the Niger Delta region.
This is just as he backed the criticism by Nigerians over the amendment made to clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act (Amendment ) Bill 2021, which unconstitutionally subordinated the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, the senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, described both the PIB and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as offensive and insensitive to concerned Nigerians.
He emphasised that the PIB passed with 3 per cent for for Host Communities Fund will not in anyway, help Nigeria and investors in the oil and gas sectors.
According to him, the 5 per cent earlier recommended by both committees of the National Assembly, which is even lower to the 10 per cent being demanded by stakeholders across the various oil producing communities, ought to have been retained in the interest of fairness, justice and equity.
He said: "When PIB was first introduced and forwarded to the National Assembly by the late President Umaru Yar'Adua, 10 per cent was proposed for the Host Communities Fund and Frontier Basins for exploration of oil as against the Bill recently passed, giving three per cent for host communities and 30 per cent for frontier basins. These, as far as the people of Niger Delta or oil producing states are concerned, are unjustifiable and look like opening another chapter for unrest in the area which will not benefit anybody.
"By this development, this country is not helping itself and it is also not helping investors. This country is not helping the host communities and it is not creating the enabling environment for investment to thrive. 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. As it is, host communities do not have a stake in oil exploration and exploitation activities. The investors that the federal government is trying to bring will not come, while those who come would take off when they discovered that the situation was not conducive for them. It is not a wise decision to go against the wishes of the host communities because they are in their thousands."