Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has said the Petroleum Industry Bill should be taken seriously as it will reduce the level of hostilities and lack of trust between the host communities and oil companies.
Speaking when members of the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill led by Senator Omotayo Alasaodura paid him a courtesy visit in Asaba, Governor Okowa stated that the passage of the bill and signing it into law should be concluded before the campaign for the 2019 general elections commences.
Governor Okowa who commended the committee on Petroleum Host Communities Bill for visiting the state to take the views of the host communities and know how they live in the creeks, advising that all components of the PIB should be considered for the desired results to be achieved.
“I want to appreciate the national assembly for the interest you have for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, we are glad that you are here to visit impacted communities, have a first time knowledge of effects of oil exploration and have interactive session with the people,” the Governor said.
He continued, “I am glad that you are here and this particular bill (Petroleum Host Communities Bill), though, it may be the most smallest, is the most important bill, because, if you do not have the bye-in of the host communities, the likelihood of success in the entire petroleum industry will be challenged.”
“Things are getting better in the oil communities but, we believe that more can be done and this bill will actually remove every doubt and every fear will be taken care of when it is signed into law, I believe that it will give a lot of room for development in the host communities and that will reduce agitations and allow for a peaceful environment for the operation of the oil companies and when you have the kind of environment that is needed for oil companies to operate in, then, we know that we have greater resources for us as a people and as a nation,” Governor Okowa said.
Senator Alasaodura had said they were in the state for the people to have input in the PIB, noting that Delta State is one of the greatest stakeholders in Nigeria’s oil industry and getting the views of the people was very important to ensure that the bill meets their aspirations.
He disclosed that efforts are on to ensure that the bill is passed and signed into law before the campaign for the 2019 election commences.
At a stakeholders meeting between the committee, traditional rulers, president-generals of ethnic nationalities, and other relevant stakeholders, inputs were made of what the people expects from the PIB.
Governor Okowa at the stakeholders’ meeting took different sessions of the bill, stating that communities should in conjunction with the oil companies, appoint members of board of trustees for the Oil Producing Communities Development Board of Trustees; inclusion of enterprising development should be included into the capital project funding of the trustees; that professional managers for the projects must come from the host and impacted communities as the communities have pool of professionals in all fields, among other suggestions.
Senator Alasaodura assured the people that decisions have not been taken concerning the bill and the views of the people would be considered, adding that there will also, be public hearing on the bill before it is passed and signed into law.