The refusal of the National Assembly to allocate 5% equity to the host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) recently passed into law, poses a threat to the peace of the Niger Delta region and as well as investments and investors in the oil and gas industry.
This was disclosed by the immediate past governor of Bayelsa State and incumbent Senator representing Bayelsa West, Henry Seriake Dickson, during a press briefing at the National Assembly complex on Thursday.
The lawmaker said the when the PIB was introduced under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua administration, 10 per cent stake was proposed for the host communities and another 10 per cent for frontier development, adding that it was unfortunate the bill cannot be passed at the time.
“The 9th Assembly has been able to pass it but we have to get it right. I am particularly not happy with the three per cent that was eventually passed. Most of us disagree completely and that was why I led my other colleagues from the South-South to stage a walkout.
“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 investments 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 discover that the situation is 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,” Dickson said.
He noted that for peace to be sustained in the Niger Delta region, the host communities must be happy, hence the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to decline assent to the PIB.