OIL rich communities in Ondo State, weekend, called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the process of passing into law, the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, currently before the lawmakers.
The communities in the two local councils of Ese-Odo and Ilaje, under the aegis of the state branch of Association of Oil and Gas-Producing Communities, AGPCN, of Nigeria, said the passage of the bill would solve a myriad of problems currently plaguing the country’s petroleum industry, the mainstay of the national economy.
In a statement by its Chairman, Chief Adewale Omojuwa, the group said: “The country must explore every available option to solve the socio-economic problems of the Niger Delta region. Several administrations have come up with different innovations to tackle the problems of the oil industry, but we discovered that, despite all these attempts, most of the problems still remained unresolved.
“That is why we must look at the possibility of getting over the problems through the new legislative instrument the PIB. We believe that if this bill is passed into law, most of the problems will be resolved once and for all and the industry will enjoy buoyancy.”
Omojuwa who expressed dismay at the delay in the passage of the PIB, urged the lawmakers “to look beyond politicking and selfish interests in the passage of the bill because whatever crisis in the oil industry affects the whole of the country as the national economy is tied to it.”
He expressed the readiness and commitment of oil communities in all the oil-producing states of the country to support the implementation of the law if eventually passed “so that the expected success would be recorded in the development of our individual communities.”
Omojuwa reiterated the call by the national body of AGPCN for direct disbursement of the statutory Oil Mineral Derivation Fund to the oil-bearing communities instead of the current practice in which the fund is released through the state governments.
He said: “What the constitution that established the derivation fund stated is that the money should be made available for the oil areas for their development but we see in practice is that the bulk of the money is cornered by the various state governments with little or no thought to the people for which the money is constitutionally allocated.
“That is why despite the hundreds of billions that have been released so far, the oil areas still wallop in abject poverty and gross underdevelopment.
“This situation must not be allowed to continue like this so that it does not lead to another round of restiveness that the fund was meant to address.”