Petroleum Industry Bill Provision for Host Community a Time Bomb — Gov. Diri

Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State cautioned on Tuesday that the concept of a host community in the National Assembly’s recently enacted controversial Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, was a ticking time bomb if not addressed properly.

Meanwhile, Bishop Simeon Okah, the immediate past National Vice Chairman (South-South) of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, has stated that the people of the Niger Delta will not accept the three and five percent in the newly authorized PIB designated as the Host Communities Development Trust Fund by the National Assembly.

The recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB has also been labeled by the Isoko Monitoring Group (IMG) as a taboo that would not be allowed by oil and gas host communities in the Niger Delta.

Governor Diri, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily breakfast current affairs program yesterday, said: “Governors did not wait till today to speak on the PIB.” We had a perspective, and it was made very apparent throughout the public hearings, speaking on behalf of my state.

“It is an unthinkable and total injustice to allot three per cent to oil-producing communities. We stated our position of 10 per cent.

“The definition of host communities or oil-producing communities is also worrisome. Oil-producing communities should not be where pipelines are laid. If the issue of what an oil-producing community is not addressed, it is a time bomb that could explode.”

On the open grazing, Diri said: “The issue of cattle grazing is a commercial, private activity. I do not see why we needed anybody’s opinion to regulate a private activity.   

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“We must protect our people. That is why we have state assemblies. In Bayelsa, it has already come into force since March 11, 2021. Open grazing is no longer sustainable. We need to stop it.”

Okah, who is the founder and presiding Bishop of Flock of Christ Mission in Delta State, said: “I congratulate them for doing a good job with the passage of the bill. I say a good job because the bill (PIB) has been around for a long time.

“However, something that’s very bad, which the whole South-South is unhappy about is the three and five percent, which both chambers separately approved. Three percent is nothing. If it was about 10/15 per cent, fine.

“They should not treat the people of the South-South as if we are begging them for something. It’s the money from the South-South that is running the whole economy (at least 80 per cent). So, it’s very unfair and unjust.”

On the recent threat by some militant groups including  Niger Delta Avengers to resume hostilities in the region, the cleric said: “I have pleaded with the boys not to resume hostilities. I’m saying it from the depth of my heart, the APC government has been very unfair to the South-South where the oil is being drilled.”

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