Port Harcourt — As the Ninth National Assembly takes form, lawmakers from the Niger Delta region have been charged to push for the Solid Minerals Act to be adopted as the same legal framework work for liquid minerals, as the collective position of the region on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.
A former Group Executive Director, Corporate Planning and Development at NNPC, Dr. Joseph Ellah, who gave the charge, explained that for solid minerals to be explored in the north, exploration firms negotiate with the landowners, host communities, local government before proceeding to the Ministry of Solid Minerals.
Ellah, speaking exclusively with our correspondent on the sideline of the 31st Convocation Lecture of the Rivers State University with a topic titled, ‘The Nigerian Economy and the PIGB,’ wondered why there should be different laws for solid minerals and a different law for liquid minerals.
He disclosed that Northern Lawmakers have a collective position on the PIB, and wonder what was stopping their counterparts from the South-South from having a collective position.
“For you to explore solid minerals in the North, you must clear with the host communities, individuals who owned the land and with the local government.
“Secondly, there are committees which are formed and controlled under the supervision of the Minister of Solid Minerals, which the Minister has to take advice from the committee, which involves the local community and the local government.
“So we shouldn’t have a different law for solid minerals and a different law liquid minerals. How do we get it right? By our people insisting that the government should borrow from the Solid Minerals Act.
“These are the things that should be discussed at the parliament. But our people do not know the roles they should be playing and our politicians should seek advice.”
Ellah who was a one time General Manager in charge of Upstream Investment at NNPC emphasized on the need for lawmakers from the South to wake up and push for the interest of the region in the National Assembly.NDDC
He added that for the Niger Delta region to get it right, lawmakers and politicians from the region must push and insist on the adoption of solid minerals laws on liquid minerals while regretting that politicians from the region do not know the roles they ought to play.
“The Northern State governors set up a committee under one person to push their position for the PIGB and PIB. That committee brought out what is believed to be their own position and, their position is that NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta should be scrapped and there should be just one fund that should be channeled to the Niger Delta. Now that is their position.
“But Rivers State does not have a position on the PIB, Niger Delta does not have a position. Why shouldn’t we have a position on PIB and oil?
“The Northern states realized that this is important to them and therefore set up a committee to deliberate on it and came with a position, and that was the position their parliamentarians pushed.
“But our Niger Delta parliamentarians do not have a position, if you ask them now, they will tell you they don’t have a collective position.”