Kenny EMMANUEL

 

The Pan Niger Delta Forum has lambasted the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) for signing the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021(PIB) into law by on Monday.

The group led by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, said the President by signing the PIB into law, showed that he had no feeling for the people of the Niger Delta who continue to suffer the environmental degradation which has been the consequence of oil exploration in the zone.

PANDEF spokesman, Ken Robinson, on Monday, described as outrageous and fraudulent, the allocation of 30 per cent for the exploration of oil in the frontier basins, noting that oil business is a private affair and that investors should use their resources in the search for oil anywhere in the country.

PANDEF said it is a very “sad and bad day” for Nigeria that despite the overwhelming outcry of the people of the South-South zone, the President still went ahead and signed the PIB into law.

PANDEF had insisted that the equity share must be 10 per cent for host communities and rejected the 3 per cent allocated for host communities in the just signed Petroleum Industry Act.

The group’s spokesman said, “It is very unfortunate that in spite of the outcry and the condemnation that greeted the paltry 3 per cent provided for the development of the host communities and the outrageous 30 per cent of the NNPC limited profit allocated for the exploration of oil in the frontiers, Mr President has gone ahead to endorse the bill into law.”

On the allocation of 30 per cent for oil exploration in the frontier basins, Robinson said, “It is an outrageous provision, it is fraudulent, it is a way of siphoning Nigeria’s money. When you allocate 30 per cent of profit for exploration. The oil exploration in the Niger Delta was not carried out with Nigeria’s money. The oil industry is a business and if anybody wants to explore oil, they should spend their money, they should invest their money.

“All that the government needs to do is to create the right environment, the enabling environment for investors to go there to explore oil. If they find oil, fine; if they don’t, that’s business.

“That’s what happened in the Niger Delta; Nigeria did not spend money to explore oil. So, when you take our money, 30 per cent of the supposed profit of the NNPC, it is fraudulent conduit pipe to siphon Nigeria’s money for whatever purposes they have set out for themselves.”

The spokesman said the injustice in the country was one of the reasons the group has been demanding the restructuring of Nigeria.

By assenting to the bill which legislation was stalled for about 20 years before it was recently passed by the 9th National Assembly, the President approved at least 30 per cent of the profit to be generated by the proposed Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to go to the exploration of oil in ‘frontier basins’, according to Section 9 of the PIB.

Section 9(4) of the PIB reads, “The frontier exploration fund shall be 10 per cent of rents on petroleum prospecting licences and 10 per cent on petroleum mining leases; and 30 per cent of NNPC Limited’s profit oil and profit gas as in product sharing, profit sharing and risk service contracts. The fund shall be applied to all basins and undertaken simultaneously.”

Section 9(5) adds, “NNPC Limited shall transfer the 30 per cent of profit oil and profit gas to the frontier exploration fund escrow account dedicated for the development of frontier acreages only.”

The PIB also makes provision for the establishment of a Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission which will be responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of upstream petroleum operations and also promote the exploration of frontier basins in Nigeria

The frontier basins include Chad Basin, Gongola Basin, Sokoto Basin, Dahomey Basin, Bida Basin, Benue Trough, Anambra Basin, amongst others.

At the moment, crude oil is obtained from eight states in the Niger Delta region which include: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States.

The 19 northern state governments had in 2016 intensified their search for oil and gas in the region with the appointment of a British firm to carry out the exploration activities which was sequel to Buhari’s directive to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to increase the tempo of the crude oil find in the North-East.

With Monday’s presidential assent to the PIB which will regulate all matter in the oil sector, the oil exploration move of the 19 northern governors had received a huge boost.

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