By Salim Yunusa

The leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has called for the review and amendment of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), recently passed by the National Assembly so that it can provide 10 per cent for host communities or the International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta would be ejected.

He also kicked against the 30 per cent of the profits of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) set aside for frontier oil exploration as he described the bill as satanic, unjust and embarrassing.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Clark, who is also the leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), affirmed that the PIB in its current form has dashed the hope of the people of the Niger Delta.

Represented by PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, he said the Niger Delta region has had enough of the colonial oppression and will be resisting it.

In an open letter addressed to the Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and read at the press conference, the former Federal Commissioner for Information condemned the provision and allocation of 30 per cent of profits for further frontier oil exploration in the north, stressing that the PIB passed does not reflect the long clamour by the people of the region for equity, fairness and justice.

According to the elder statesman the entire people of the Niger Delta region, for and on behalf of the host communities, vehemently reject the 3 per cent and 5 per cent of operating expenditure granted to the host communities; the fraudulent and provocative 30 per cent provision for the frontier exploration fund.

He stated in the letter: “Given the depth of ingratitude expressed and delivered after decades of exploitation and neglect of the region, the entire people of the Niger Delta region, for and on behalf of the host communities, vehemently reject the following aspects of the bill: The three per cent and five per cent of Operating Expenditure granted to the host communities; the fraudulent and provocative 30 per cent provision for the Frontier Exploration Fund.

“And now demand: The PIB must be reversed, reviewed and amended to ensure that the Oil-Bearing Communities must now receive not less than 10 per cent of Operating Cost. If this is not done, the Niger Delta people may be forced to take their destiny into their own hands and all IOCs may find themselves denied access to their oil activities in such communities,” he said.

Clark said people of the Niger Delta, at all levels both at home and abroad, have expressed their great displeasure over what he called satanic and obnoxious allocation of a paltry percentage of operating expenditure to oil-producing communities by the national assembly.

He added: “It is important to state clearly here to all well-meaning Nigerians that the demand of the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta Region was for a minimum of 10% equity participation.

“But you Mr Senate President, the Right Honourable Speaker and some of your colleagues in the National Assembly have further shown your disdain to the Niger Delta people by redefining host communities to include pipeline-bearing pathway communities, in which case States, where pipelines pass through to aid them with the privilege of cheap supplies of Niger Delta petroleum products, could also be entitled to the ridiculous and unacceptable percentages that the legislators are willing to cede to oil-bearing Communities.

“We want to warn seriously, that the people of the Niger Delta have had enough of this colonial and oppressive mentality of our Northern brothers and friends. Today, the north controls the Oil Sector, even though day-to-day operations are being handled by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he explained.

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