The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said it will consult governors of the Niger Delta states, members of the National Assembly from Southern Nigeria and other groups in the Niger Delta region, before deciding on the next step to take following the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law.
This is as it warned that the signing of the PIB into law, despite protests from the people of the Niger Delta region, may cause the resumption of hostilities in the region.
PANDEF’s national publicity secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, disclosed this yesterday while speaking during the morning show at LEADERSHIP’s Last Word Podcast Studio, which was monitored in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Robinson, who described the PIB as the continuation of the oppression and marginalisation of the people of Niger Delta, stated that the addition of some states in the South into the frontier basins was a mere cover-up.
He said, “This is not about putting one or two states from the South and adding them to a cluster of states in the North and telling us they are the frontier basins. How much did Nigeria spend on oil exploration in the Niger Delta?
“What Nigeria needs is to create an enabling environment for the exploration of oil in the frontier basins. If you succeed, good. The government is not supposed to earmark money for such an exercise.”
The PANDEF scribe added that the Niger Delta people will, after consultations, resolve on the best legal action to take.
Meanwhile, the federal government has declared that the signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law by President Muhammadu Buhari does not mean an automatic end to the fuel subsidy regime.
There were widespread reports of anxiety from stakeholders and particularly the consumers that the price of petrol in Nigeria may jump from between N162 and N165 to as high as N300 per litre following the signing of the PIB into law by President Buhari on Monday.
Minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva, said this will not be so as market forces will now determine the selling price of petrol in the country and the subsidy regime will come to an end.
Sylva clarified yesterday that the signing of the PIB by the president does not automatically translate to the immediate end of the subsidy regime in Nigeria.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja yesterday, Sylva said, “You asked about the meeting with labour about petroleum price. Whether that meeting is still on course, it’s still on course. I told you the issue is not just about discussing with Labour because we have agreed between Labour and us that we need to put a framework on ground for the implementation of deregulation, because more or less, there is consensus across the table now, that deregulation is desirable now. But how do we achieve it? That is the question now. Labour and us have agreed, so we are now in the process of putting the infrastructure and the process in place. And once we are able to agree on that process with Labour, then we are ready to deregulate. So we keep at N162 for the time being but we are in the moment of trying to work out the processes to allow the deregulation to come to fruition. Because right now we don’t even have a choice anymore; it is a matter of law. So we have to ensure that this happens but we have to ensure, also, that the ordinary Nigerian is well catered for before that law is actually operated.”
He added also that journalists will be engaged appropriately on the next line of action by the government when the time is right.
The minister, while explaining the current astronomical increase in the price of cooking gas, said the ministry was not in position to determine gas prices.
LEADERSHIP checks reveal that the 12.5 kilogrammes cylinder of cooking gas has risen by over 50 per cent in the last one month from N4,500 to N6000 and above across the country.
And sellers are afraid that with the current trend it may hit N10,000 unless the government steps in.
“We are not in a position to determine gas pricing, because gas is not a regulated product but, of course, we are also concerned that prices are rising.
“I am actually doing something about it, just in the interest of the ordinary Nigerians. I am calling some of the suppliers to meet with them to discuss the reason for this hike. But I can tell you that it is not really our role. But just in the interest of Nigerians, we are trying to see how we can intervene with the supplies and have discussions that will allow us to see how we can bring down the price of gas to something more affordable. I understand that the average cost of a cylinder has moved from N5000 to N6000 or something. But we are following. We are following the price and we are doing something about it with the supplies”
On the issue of modular refineries, the minister said, “We have licensed quite a bit. I am not in a position to give you an exact figure now, but I know that a few of these refineries are under construction, and very soon we will be at the commissioning of new modular refineries. At least, just last year you know we commissioned the Walter Smith one, which is functioning very well and since then, I have also laid the foundation for Atlantic refinery. And there is the Niger Delta one that is also ongoing, almost ready to be commissioned in Port Harcourt. So there are quite a few modular refineries that are ongoing. So that programme is on course.”
According to him, the Walter Smith refinery is 5000 barrels a day and they are producing very comfortably. There is no problem at all.
The Atlantic one is not finished but they too are very much on course to conclude construction by first quarter next year, and there are other modular refineries projects that are ongoing now.