Dickson Slams Senate Over PIB’s 3% Vote For Host Communities


BY EDMOND ODOK – As public outcry continues over the three per cent yearly expenditure of oil firms allocated for the development of oil-bearing communities, former Governor and Senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson, has blamed the Senate leadership for the unnecessary controversy now trailing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

Senator Dickson has therefore cautioned that the allocation, as reflected in the harmonised PIB recently passed by the National Assembly could trigger a fresh wave of unrest in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, it is important that President Muhammed Buhari delays assent when the bill reaches his table until an acceptable and suitable resolution is reached on the contentious issue.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, Senator Dickson blamed the Senate’s last-minute invitation of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, for rubbishing an earlier agreement by Senators that five percent should be the minimum allocation to the oil-bearing communities.

He said Sylva and Kyari presence in the Senate on the day of the PIB passage was not only ‘unparliamentary’, but unfortunately made some Senators abandon the earlier agreed position on the bill

Offering insight on events leading to the bill passage, the former Bayelsa State governor said; “Senator George Sekibo and I were mandated to reach out to other senators who are not in our region and we did. We spoke to most of them and they all supported us for the five percent.

“Before we took that deliberation and the vote, the Minister of State for Petroleum and the GMD of the NNPC were invited to give us the executive perspective.

“I don’t know why it was done, but it was unparliamentary. It was a decision the leadership took and they came supposedly to enlighten us on the technical aspects of the bill. They told us that it is either we agree to 2.5 percent or no investment.

“So, I can feel how most members who had earlier given us their commitment felt when they heard the tough position by the Executive.

“The Minister said there won’t be investment in-flow if we approve anything higher than the 2.5 per cent. There was no room for any interrogation, so they left and we started the consideration.

“All they are seeing is that those who said they have a majority vote had imposed three percent on them and so they are angry.”

Insisting that caution is important in handling the contention, Senator Dickson said; “Let us be very careful, and that is why I am of the view that the three percent is not helpful to the host communities, not helpful to the oil companies, and also, not helpful to the country.

“If we want to attract investors we must work hand in hand with the host communities, get their buy-in, get their understanding and support to create an enabling environment for investment to thrive.

“I believe that it is not too late there is still room for a review of this so that we can have the buy-in of the host communities.”

He said the current situation notwithstanding, the bill can still be reviewed upwards from the harmonised three to five percent allocation, adding; “We believe that there should be a review of the legislation first. There shouldn’t be a signature yet. Buhari shouldn’t assent to it yet.

“It should be delayed for a more consultative and inclusive work so that while trying to solve problems you don’t create more problems.”

Insisting that the President can help to guarantee stability and safety within the Niger Delta, Senator Dickson said; “President Buhari’s first proposal was five percent. That is why I said that this matter has been so badly mismanaged.”

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