28 July 2014, Abuja – A civil society group, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, has warned members of the National Assembly not to contemplate re-election in 2015, if they fail to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill into law.
The Executive Director of the group, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, issued this warning on Saturday, shortly after a public awareness programme on the PIB and the need for transparency and accountability in the petroleum sector.
Ojo said that the lawmakers were at the National Assembly at the behest of the electorate, adding that the group would not support the re-election of the federal legislators in next year’s election, if the PIB was not passed into law.
Explaining that the National Assembly had been disappointing in the handling of the PIB, Ojo alleged that the lawmakers had yielded to the blackmail by oil companies that did not want the bill to be passed into law.
He said, “We, as civil society groups and as community members, are disappointed in the National Assembly for playing politics with people’s lives. The PIB has been on the desk of our lawmakers since 2009 and another lawmaking session is coming to an end. Yet, the passage of this bill appears not to be in sight.
“We are very worried that the National Assembly is caving in as a result of the blackmail by oil companies who are all out, lobbying against the bill in order to kill it. While we encourage the lawmakers to quickly consider and pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, we want to sound a note of warning that no passing of PIB, no return to the hallowed chambers in 2015.
“This call has become important because the lawmakers are at the behest of the electorate. So, we will ensure that during elections, the non-passage of the PIB into law will become an electioneering issue and anyone who has sat in the hallowed chamber and refused to give support to the PIB will be denied of the electorate’s votes.”
Ojo disclosed that his group would be staging a peaceful protest in Abuja against the non-passage of the PIB on August 4, 2014. He added that the protest would also serve as an opportunity to draw attention to the non-implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme report on the clean-up of Ogoniland.
He decried the Federal Government silence on the UNEP report, describing it as a denial of Ogoni people’s right to existence.
“We strongly believe that the government should implement the UNEP report and should ensure that $1bn clean-up funds, as recommended by the UNEP report, be set up immediately,” Ojo added.
Meanwhile, the Congress of Ogoni People has restated the need for oil-bearing communities to be given 100 per cent control over their resources.
The congress, in a communiqué issued in Port Harcourt on Saturday, condemned the ongoing debate on resource control and oil derivation, describing it as insensitive and needless.
It will be recalled that the delegates at the National Conference had engaged one another in a hot debate on the issue of resource control.
While delegates from the South-South had voted for an upward review of the current 13 per cent derivation, majority of the delegates from the North had opposed the position. But the Congress of Ogoni People insisted that oil- producing areas should enjoy a total control of their resources while taxes should be paid to the Federal Government.
The communiqué signed by the President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara, said, “The congress decried the current debate on resource control and derivation as needless and insensitive
“The congress further reiterated that it stands by earlier position of MOSOP that communities should be given 100 per cent control over their resources and pay the necessary taxes to the Federal Government.”
The congress expressed regret over the recent cult crisis in some communities in Ogoni and advised the people, especially the youths not to mortgage their future by submitting to cult violence and manipulations by external masterminds.
It urged the people to commit to ensuring that such disturbance did not recur anywhere in Ogoni, describing Ogoni as a globally recognised community for non-violent and peaceful advocacy.
Explaining that the people of Ogoni could not afford to renege on their peaceful disposition towards resolving crisis, the congress called on all Ogoni traditional rulers to redouble their efforts in promoting peaceful engagements in their respective areas.
– The Punch