The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has said it will consult governors of the Niger Delta states, members of the National Assembly from Southern Nigeria and other groups in the region before deciding on next line of action following the presidential assent to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is as the group warned that the signing of the PIB into law despite protests from the people of the Niger Delta region may aggravate the hostilities in the region.
PANDEF’s national publicity secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking on the LEADERSHIP Podcast breakfast show, ‘InsideNIGERIA’, which was monitored in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Robinson, who described the new petroleum law 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 cluster of states in the North and tell 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 exercise.
“It is sad that the Nigerian government is treating the Niger Delta region, the base of the nation’s economy like this. For us in the Niger Delta, the signing of the PIB into law signifies a message to us that how we feel and what we say does not matter in Nigeria.
“For us in the Niger Delta, yesterday (Monday) was a day of sadness. What happened yesterday was a continuation of the neglect and marginalisation of our people.
“When it was cocoa and groundnut, was it 13 per cent derivation to the states and today, you are going on to celebrate 3 per cent? This document (PIB) is a continuation of the oppression and marginalisation of the Niger Delta people.
“What we ask for is equitable participation. We want to be shareholder and co-owners in what is produced in our backyard. Until the people of Niger Delta participate adequately in the oil and gas production, the issues and crisis in the region may continue.
“The Niger Delta people will, after consultations, resolve on best legal action to take. We are going to meet and have consultations across the entire Niger Delta. We will meet with Southern senators, representatives and governors before resolving on next action to take.”