…PANDEF kicks, says signing PIB into law shows FG doesn’t care about Niger Delta peoples’ suffering

… Declares that it’s a bad day for Niger Delta people, “sad, bad day” for Nigeria

… Insists the equity share must be 10% for host communities, not 3% in Petroleum Industry Act

… As PDP berates Buhari for signing the Bill despite public outcry

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has come under heavy criticism by the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and the main opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for signing the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB into law despite public outcry over some contentious provisions in the Bill. While PANDEF slammed the President for signing the bill into law despite the rejection of three percent share allocated to the host communities and approving 30 percent for oil exploration, PDP says signing the Bill into law confirms Buhari lacks regard for Nigerians. According to PANDEF, “It is a very “sad and bad day” for Nigeria that despite the overwhelming outcry of the people of the South/South geopolitical zone, President Buhari went ahead and signed the PIB into law.”

The group insisted that the equity share must be 10 percent for the host communities and rejected the three percent allocated for the host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill signed into law by the President. “It clearly shows the disregard for the feelings and concerns of the Niger Delta people by the present administration”, spokesman of PANDEF, Ken Robinson was quoted to have said. Speaking further, the group insisted that the President had no feeling for the people of the Niger Delta region, who it said had continued to suffer the environmental degradation which has been the consequence of oil exploration in the region. “It is very unfortunate that in spite of the outcry and the condemnation that greeted the paltry three percent provided for the development of the host communities and the outrageous 30 percent of the NNPC Limited profit allocated for the exploration of oil in the frontiers, Buhari has gone ahead to sign the bill into law.

“It is a reality that this country does not care about the feelings and hopes and aspirations of the Niger Delta people while we continue to suffer the neglect and degradation and the decimation of our environment. “The livelihood of our children has been devastated, and we suffer the consequences of this industry operating in our environment with the government insensitive to its environment from the operations of the industry”, the spokesman was quoted to have said. In its further reaction to the signing of the controversial bill into law, the PDP noted that the action despite widespread public rejection amounts to an endorsement of imposition and further confirms that President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) have no iota of respect for the people as well as the tenets of democracy as a system of government.

According to the PDP Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, by his action, President Buhari has only authenticated that he is not a listening leader and that the APC and its leaders are only out to trample on the will of Nigerians for their selfish interests. “In putting his hands to endorse the obnoxious bill, even with its distasteful, paltry and provocative 3% revenue to oil-producing communities, President Buhari and the APC have again displayed disdain and insensitivity to the sufferings of the people of the Niger Delta”, the party said. It declared that such is the height of contempt to oil-producing communities, particularly in the face of the challenges which they face as a result of oil exploration. Noting that Mr. President could have returned the Bill to the National Assembly with a request that it is made to address the demands of the oil-producing communities, the party said it fears that the new law cannot guarantee the desired stability and development in the oil and gas sector as well as respite in the Niger Delta region. “If anything, the Act assigned by President Buhari is a dangerous recipe for an avoidable crisis in the sector”, it added.

The party, therefore, called on President Buhari to salvage the situation by immediately forwarding an amendment bill to the National Assembly to reflect the true wishes and aspirations of every segment of our nation. While calling for calm across the country, particularly the South-South geo-political zone, the PDP also charges lawmakers elected on its platform to be at alert even as preparation must begin for an urgent amendment to this law. It would be recalled that the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina had in a statement said that while working from home in five days quarantine as required by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 after returning from London, the President assented to the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB in his determination to fulfill his constitutional duty. He said the ceremonial part of the new legislation will be done on Wednesday, after the days of mandatory isolation would have been fulfilled by the President.

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