*As Natural Disaster Reserved Fund Bill passes first reading in N/ASS
Port Harcourt — A Bill seeking contingency plan in the event of a natural disaster in the Niger Delta region, as a result of prolonged oil exploration and exploitation in the region, has scaled first reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.
This is as the Niger Delta region has continued to witnessed non-stop oil exploration and exploitation since 1956, when oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in Oloibiri, present day Bayelsa State.
The Bill titled, “Niger Delta Natural Disaster Reserved Fund Establishment Bill” classified these natural disasters to include, earth tremor, earthquake, well-blowout and explosion, volcanic eruption and adverse oil spill leading to environmental devastation.
The Bill is sponsored by the member representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency at the House of Reps, Hon. Farah Dagogo, from Rivers State.
Dagogo explained that the Bill is a proactive measure aimed at protecting and catering for the inhabitants of the region, by providing an assured security for future generations or citizens of the Niger Delta states.
Funding for the proposed law, according to the Lawmaker, will comprised a capital contribution of not less than $1 from every barrel of crude oil and similar rate of liquefied natural gas sold by Nigeria.
Other sources of funding for the Bill include, “Revenue accruing periodically from approved investments made out of the Capital Reserved Fund.
“Other revenue legitimately accruing to the Reserved Fund by means not provided for the Bill; and such other sums as may accrue to the capital in the Reserved Fund from time to time.”
In order to avoid abuse of the fund, Section 2(4) of the Bill clarified that “the Reserved Fund shall not be used under any circumstances for the following purposes, as collateral or security for any form of borrowing by Government or to make up shortfalls in the recurrent or capital expenditure of Government.”
The Funds, according to the Bill, can only be resorted to through a proposal by the President solely for the purpose of ameliorating the effects of the situation that led to the natural disaster, submitted to the National Assembly and approved by majority votes of two-thirds of the legislature.