Niger Delta communities may stop oil companies from carrying out production activities in their domains if the National Assembly fails to reverse the newly passed petroleum industry bill that sliced revenue allocation to host communities, Edwin Clark, a former minister and leader in the region has warned.
Mr Clark on Monday described the bill passed last week as “satanic and unjust” after the Senate and the House of Representatives significantly reduced proposed revenue to oil-producing communities from the proposed 10 per cent to three per cent, but handed a relatively far higher 30 per cent for oil prospecting in areas listed as “frontier basins”, mostly in the northern region of the country.
“We want to warn seriously, that the people of the Niger Delta have had enough of this colonial and oppressive mentality of our Northern brothers and friends. Today, the north controls the Oil Sector, even though day-to-day operations are being handled by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria,” Mr Clark said.
Mr Clark, who leads the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), said he, on behalf of the region, rejected the three per cent and five per cent of NNPC Limited profit granted to the host communities.
He urged federal lawmakers to revise the bill and pass the appropriate version.
“If this is not done, the Niger Delta people may be forced to take their destiny into their own hands and all IOCs may find themselves denied access to their oil activities in such communities,” he said at a press conference where his statement was read out by a representative.
The PIB, a major legislation that holds sweeping reforms for the Nigerian oil and gas sector, was first introduced into the National Assembly in 2008, but successive National Assembly failed to pass the legislation.
Its eventual passage by the current assembly led by Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, a key event praised by many, has been overshadowed by the controversial clauses introduced into the bill that now awaits a presidential sign off.
Mr Clark, in a letter, addressed to the Senate President Lawan and Speaker Gbajabiamila, condemned the provision and allocation of 30 per cent of profits for further frontier oil exploration in the north, and called it “provocative.”
“It is important to state clearly here to all well-meaning Nigerians that the demand of the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta Region was for a minimum of 10 per cent equity participation,” Mr Clark said.
“But you Mr Senate President, the Right Honourable Speaker and some of your colleagues in the National Assembly have further shown your disdain to the Niger Delta people by redefining host communities to include pipeline-bearing pathway communities, in which case States, where pipelines pass through to aid them with the privilege of cheap supplies of Niger Delta petroleum products, could also be entitled to the ridiculous and unacceptable percentages that the legislators are willing to cede to oil-bearing Communities.”