Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has decried the three per cent allocated to oil-producing communities in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), saying the “paltry three per cent hurt the oil-producing communities badly.”
Emmanuel said their people were not happy with the three per cent and that the attendant ill-feeling among his Niger Delta people was costing the government so much as they try to pacify their people to allow things be.
The governor stated this yesterday during a special interview on Arise News Channel, THISDAY’s sister broadcast station, saying he was hoping that the government at the centre would reconsider its decision on the matter.
Controversies have continued to trail the PIA, a piece of legislation that is expected to guide the operation of the Nigeria oil and gas industry going forward.
Chief among the contending issues are the allocation of 30 per cent profit oil and gas of the new NNPC Limited to frontier exploration, and three per cent of oil companies’ operating expenditure to the host communities. The governor questioned the essence of the memoranda that were collected across the country during the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly.
He said: “You know that if I want to speak on that in the public, I might go a little bit harsh or I might go a little bit sentimental.”
But it hurts us badly as oil-producing communities that a paltry three per cent (was allocated to us), even when we were shouting against it.
“So, what was the essence of going round collecting memoranda, and not taken them into consideration at all? So, it hurt us so badly, and there is a whole lot of agitation down there.
“Our people are not happy. I must let the world know that our people are not happy. And it’s costing us a whole lot as a government to pacify our people to allow things be with the hope that the government at the centre will look into it again.”
Stating that the three per cent was “not enough by any ramification,” the Akwa Ibom State governor, who noted that he didn’t want to sound as alarmist on the issue, said he was trying to ensure they pacify their people, hoping that something would be done as soon as possible.
He said the agitation against the three per cent should not be ignored, as had been earlier observed by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).
The governor added that it would not be right to ignore the cries of the people over the matter, adding: “You see, you don’t go and wake up something and then cause controversy and just think those things will go away by ignoring them.
“No, ignoring this issue; ignoring some of these matters will not make them go away.”
Emmanuel said the earlier the country addresses the contending issue and brings the people back on board, the better for everybody.
According to him, “Let it not be ignored because the people are not happy about it. The host communities are not happy. The oil-producing areas are not happy. Please, something should be done. That’s just the advice I can give. But I don’t want to whip up sentiments. I don’t want to say a lot so that it doesn’t seem as if you are trying to whip up sentiments
“Lt me just say, please, as an appeal, let it be looked into again. Laws were made for man, not man for law. So, it can be looked into. God who made the pencil also made an eraser. God who gave the wisdom of three per cent can also give the wisdom of five per cent or even more. Even if they give us 10 per cent, it won’t be too much.”
He warned the federal government against taking Nigeria back to the era of resource control, an era he said, seemed to have been settled by the country.