africa

PIB: Bayelsa senator attacks Dickson, militants vow fresh attacks


There are indications of a deepening rift between a former Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, and the senator representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, following the latter’s warning on Friday for his rival to stop inciting violence in the Niger Delta with “malicious” and “unfounded” comments.

He warned that if Dickson was not cautioned, such comments could lead to civil unrest in the Niger Delta.

While accusing the former governor of contributing nothing to the realisation of the Petroleum Industry Bill and development of host communities as governor, Degi-Eremienyo said Dickson was only interested in his village.

The senator was reacting to Dickson’s allegation against the Minister of State (Petroleum Resources), Chief Timipre Sylva, of changing the development funds in the PIB for host communities from five per cent to three per cent, saying it was a collective decision by the National Assembly.

According to him, the comments by the former governor smacked of envy, mischief and intimidation.

Dickson had alleged that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), proposed five per cent as development funds in the PIB but that it was changed by Sylva.

But Degi-Eremienyo, in a statement titled ‘PIB and three 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, “During the public hearing at various centres, host communities canvassed the same position. After a rigorous and painstaking process from plenary to conference committee, the National Assembly put the host community 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.

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“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 desire as the bill was presented to the National Assembly when he was still governor.

“Ex-governor Dickson did nothing as he was content 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 criticise or attack Sylva’s innocence. I can see that Dickson is just being envious, mischievous and intimidated by the astronomically rising profile of Sylva,” Degi-Eremienyo added.

Meanwhile, a militant group in the South-South, the Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders has threatened to resume hostilities any moment from now.

The group announced on Friday that its commanders have already returned to the creeks of the Niger Delta region, only waiting to strike.

In a statement by its spokesperson, W.O. 1 Izon-Ebi, made available to journalists in Warri on Friday, the militant group condemned the allocation of three per cent to host communities and 30 per cent for exploration of frontier basins respectively, in the passed PIB.

Titled, ‘We Will Defend Our God Given Resources,’ the militant group insisted it “will fight until obnoxious sections in the PIB are reviewed by the National Assembly”.

It read in part, “While the government and people of Zamfara State are allowed to control 100 per cent of their gold resource (fiscal federalism applying in Zamfara State), what the people of the Niger Delta region could get from their own natural resource is a paltry three per cent for host communities and in contrast, a whopping 30 percent for exploration of frontier basins.

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“Therefore, we have directed our commanders in the region to go back to the creeks and wait for further directive on the next line of action. We will defend our resources and protect our region from further mindless pillage of our God given resources”.

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