The division among Senators from Bayelsa State over the three per cent equity stake provided for host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), thickened on Friday with the Senator representing Bayelsa East, Biobarakuma Wangagha Degi-Eremienyo, warning former Governor Henry Seriake Dickson to stop instigating violence in the Niger Delta.
According to him, if Senator Dickson was not cautioned, his comments could lead to civil unrest in the Niger Delta region.
He was reacting to a press conference by Dickson on Thursday where he accused the Minister of State (Petroleum Resources), Chief Timipre Sylva, of allegedly changing the development funds percentage in the PIB for host communities from 5 per cent to 3 per cent, which he said it was a collective decision by the National Assembly.
Degi-Eremienyo accused Dickson of contributing nothing to the realisation of the PIB and development of host communities as a governor, saying he was only interested in derivation funds for his villages.
He said the comments by Dickson smacked of envy, mischief and intimidatation by the astronomical rising profile of Sylva.
Degi-Eremienyo in a statement on Friday titled: “PIB and 3 per cent for host communities: Stop instigating violence in Niger Delta, Degi cautions Dickson,” said such comments by Dickson were “highly regrettable considering the tireless efforts put in by the Minister in actualising this long awaited law.”
He said, “The true story was that the PIB as an Executive Bill was represented to the National Assembly proposing 2.5 per cent of the total operational cost as host communities development trust funds.
“The lead debate was hot and protracted in both chambers. Lawmakers from the Niger Delta region including myself spoke, argued for upward increase commensurate to our contributions and sacrifices.
“During the public hearing at various centres, host communities canvassed same postion. After rigorous and painstaking process from plenary to conference committee, the National Assembly put the host comm funds at three per cent.
“This was the decision of the National Assembly and not that of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.
“One wonders how and why Dickson would drag Sylva into this. Observers would be tempted to ask what efforts Dickson made to achieve the utmost desired as the Bill was presented to the National Assembly when he was still Governor.
“Other Governors from the Niger Delta region rallied round their people and even lobbied lawmakers from other regions to support increase in the host communities development funds.
“Ex-Governor Dickson did nothing as he was contented with spending 13 per cent derivation on aggressive development of his own villages which are not host communities, leaving the oil and gas producing, host communities to suffer their fate.
“It’s ridiculous to see him fighting pretentiously for host communities. Dickson lacks moral grounds to criticize or attack Sylva’s innocence.
“I can see that Dickson is just been envious, mischievous and intimidated by the astronomically rising profile of Sylva.”