Former Bayelsa State governor and Senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the Petroleum Industry Bill into law.
Senator Dickson gave the admonition, on Thursday, while addressing newsmen at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
The former Bayelsa governor who incidentally is a member of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC also picked a hole in the amendment of Clause 52 (3) in the Electoral Act 2016 ( Amendment) Bill, 2021 which ceded INEC mandate on electronic transmission of results to the Nigeria Communications Commission.
On the review of the Host Communities Trust Fund in the PIB from 5% to 3%, the Senator representing Bayelsa West said the action of both chambers of Parliament was against the spirit of equity and justice and capable of provoking unrest in the Niger Delta region.
He said:” When PIB was first introduced and forwarded to the National Assembly by the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua, 10 per cent was proposed for Host Communities fund and Frontier Basins for exploration of oil as against the Bill recently passed, given 3 per cent for Host Communities and 30 per cent for Frontier Basins.
“These, as far as the people of Niger Delta or oil-producing states are concerned, are unjustifiable and look like opening another chapter for unrest in the area which will not benefit anybody.
“Imagine the problem the country has been facing with Boko Haram insurgency in the North East for the past ten years, the armed banditry and kidnapping also being faced in the North West within the last three to four years as well as agitations being faced in South West and South East, to now be added up with an avoidable crisis in the South-South.
“Those of us from the area, did our best to prevail on our colleagues to listen to us and buy into our demands but the number or majority position was used, which in actual fact do not build a nation with diversities like Nigeria.
” Might and majority do not build a diversified nation like Nigeria but the presence of justice, fairness. Mere reliance on numbers without fairness, equity and justice are inimical to Nation building.”
The former Bayelsa state governor revealed that he staged a walkout, along with certain senators from the south-south region from the dinner night President Muhamnadu Buhari had with the 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives when they got wind of a plan to slash the Host Communities Trust Fund to 3 per cent.
” It was a terrible evening for us on account of the 3 per cent proposal, which as a politician of conviction and not that of convenience, led to my walkout from the dinner along with some other Senators.
“We put up the required moves on the floor of the Senate to push it up to 5% as recommended by the joint committees of both chambers but those who rely solely on numbers, have their way.”
On the controversial amendment made by the Senate on Clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act ( Amendment ) 2021, Dickson said the Red Chamber wilfully walked itself into a controversy, as he noted that the original proposal made in the clause had already been taken care of whatever exigencies being envisaged on electronic transmission of election results.
“As a member of the Senate Committee on INEC, the phrase of where and when practicable used in clause 52(3) was enough to take care of any exigencies, making the amendment which included NCC in the entire process, unnecessary and unconstitutional.
“Fortunately a window of striking out that amendment is already provided by the House of Representatives which adopted the clause as originally proposed.
” So it is expected that the earlier version of the clause, will be the one to be adopted by the Conference Committee which will be set up by both chambers for the required harmonisation of reports before transmitting the bill to the President for assent.”
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