Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike says the three per cent assigned to host communities in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was not enough to deal with the environmental degradation that has been caused by years of oil exploration in host communities.
In an interview with Channels TV, Mr Wike said yearnings of the host communities were not captured in the PIA, and that “three per cent is not enough when you consider the kind of pollution and environmental crisis we have had as a cause of oil exploration.”
He said that he had thought President Buhari, before signing the PIB into law, would have sought to correct that. “I thought what Mr President would have done is tell members of the national assembly to take into consideration yearnings of the host communities.”
Mr Buhari signed the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021 into law on Monday, 20 years after the Petroleum Industry Bill was sent to the National Assembly.
Governors under the Southern Governors Forum rejected the three per cent allocation assigned to the host communities for the development of their communities.
Reiterating their displeasure, Mr Wike, while maintaining that the three per cent share was inadequate, however, acknowledged that the signing of the law was a good development for the people of the Niger Delta, though it failed to capture their yearnings.
On the disbursement of the three per cent directly to host communities, Mr Wike said he worried that could pose crises in the region. He wants an arrangement that allows the government to play a role and monitor the process.
“I was thinking that the government would have a hand in monitoring the spending.
That’s my own thinking. You are not paying the money to government, I do agree. But paying to the host community and leaving them alone will cause a lot of crises.
“I have no problems with sending that money to the communities for them to spend for development purposes. I have no problem.
But, how do you checkmate the use of that fund? And I can tell you, knowing the IOCs very well, that what they will do is to sponsor crises for them not to send funds to the communities. That has always been the case,” he said.
The governor said a section should have been provided for the government to play a role in order to prevent sabotage of the memorandum of understanding by both parties.