The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has said that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is more important than the deliberations on the 3 per cent allocated to oil communities in the Niger Delta region.
The Minister said the Bill which has been in the pipeline since 2010 would alleviate the sufferings of the host communities if passed.
Akpabio stated this at the Town Hall meeting organized by the Ministry of Information and Culture with the theme “Protecting Oil and Gas Infrastructure,” held in Abuja.
Recall that Southern Governors after its meeting in Lagos rejected the 3 per cent oil revenue allocated to oil communities. Also, some socio-cultural groups have also condemned the plan to allocate only 3 per cent to oil communities in the PIB.
Akpabio said “journey of a thousand mile begins with a step and not about three and five per cent that is being deliberated on by both the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively but by the passage of the Bill before the close of July ending.
“The PIB bill has been in the pipeline since 2010 and lasted for too long a time. I appeal to the Senate to pass the Bill so that sufferings of the people can be alleviated.”
Speaking on vandalization of oil and gas infrastructure in the region, the former Akwa Ibom governor reiterated the efforts of the Federal Government to address the vandalization of critical oil and gas infrastructure in order to stabilize and promote socio-economic development and well-being of the Niger Delta region.
According to him “the most destructive impact of the agitations in the Niger Delta region are the activities of vandals who disguise themselves as agitators and wantonly destroy critical oil and gas infrastructure thereby disrupting oil and gas production in the region. The effect of this on the economy of the Nation cannot be over-emphasized.”
He stated further that oil flow stations and pipeline destruction have resulted in a damaged environment, polluted land and the communities are subjected to more hardship since the economy of the people are basically agrarian farmers and fishermen.
He mentioned that the Federal Government recently launched a $1bn clean-up for some parts of the region, most prominent of this, is the Ogoni Clean-up, and the estimated clean-up and total restoration time for the swamps, creeks, fishing grounds and mangroves is about 25 years, adding that the situation had remained a no-win situation for the Federal Government, the oil companies and the people of the Niger Delta whose environment has been destroyed.
Akpabio stated that there have been several programmes and initiatives aimed at addressing youth restiveness and bringing development to the region. Some of these include and not limited to the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the defunct Oil Mineral and Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC), the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
He said that the Ministry has also made concerted efforts toward ensuring attitudinal change amongst the youths through intensive and consistent values reorientation, advocacy programmes, which has made a significant impact in the reduction of pipeline vandalization since the inception of the administration.
The Minister asserted that the Ministry is at the process of developing a reorientation programme targeted at Primary and Secondary School Pupils in each of the Nine States of the region with the aim of developing the right orientation within them and ultimately leading to the desired peace and progress in the region
“The project is a broad-based approach that will guarantee lasting peace, accelerated progress and development to the Niger Delta region through an active orientation of the youth’s approach,” he said.
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