17 July 2016, Owerri—To facilitate development in the Niger Delta region, South-East and South South lawmakers have called on the Federal Government to review the ownership structure of oil wells in the country to allow for 65 per cent ownership by the people of the region.
The lawmakers also condemned the criminal and nefarious activities of herdsmen and called for the establishment of special task force drawn from the various security agencies and Neighbourhood Watch in each local government area to checkmate the excesses of herdsmen and prosecute them.
They also urged the National Assembly to ensure the accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. According to them: “The people of the Niger Delta region should possess at least 65 per cent of the oil wells contrary to the present ownership structure where less than 10 per cent of the oil blocks belong to our people.”
They noted that the region’s development is being hindered by the present payment mode of derivative oil funds.
“There is an urgent need for the Federal Government of Nigeria to put in place adequate machinery that would ensure direct payment of derivative oil funds into the hands of Niger Delta benefiting communities,” the principal officers and members of the Houses of Assembly in the region said.
Rising from the first parliamentary session of the South-East and South-South Houses of Assembly in Owerri, Imo State, weekend, the lawmakers condemned the criminal and nefarious activities of the so called herdsmen.
“Legislators of the Houses of Assembly in the South-South and South East can no longer watch helplessly as our region drifts aimlessly while our people walk the razor edge under the strain of impoverishment, environmental degradation, insecurity and uncertainty on the one hand and the destruction of oil/gas installations and the attendant consequences including their impact on the eco-system and the economy on the other hand.”
They urged the youth to shun confrontation, violence and militancy in pressing for the redress of the zone.
“They must embrace dialogue and diplomacy and channel their grievances through various constituted platforms.”
The joint session of legislators from the South -East and South –South geo-political zones not only condemned the evil acts of kidnapping, hostage taking and bursting of oil pipelines, but stressed that militants from the zones should be constituted into an officially recognized brigade for the protection of oil installations.
The legislators, who called for more proactive measures to address the activities of herdsmen, restated their commitments to pass bills restricting cattle rearing, prohibiting grazing of cattle from one location to another through farmlands thereby causing damages to farm lands, health hazards and obstruction of vehicular and human traffic.
The lawmakers while attributing the defective and harsh socio-economic environment, lack of employment opportunities, lack of empowerment for the youth, environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure, general under-development and inadequate benefit of the resources from the region, rejected the proposed bill to establish and control grazing routes and reserves before the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly.