The Oil Solid Mineral Producing Area Landlords Association of Nigeria (OMPALAN) has said the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), recently passed into law by President, Muhammadu Buhari, is best for the development of Niger Delta communities.
The Imo State chairman of OMPALAN, Chibunna Ubawuike, revealed this while interacting with journalists on Monday in Owerri.
According to him, for over 50 years since oil exploration and exploitation began in the Niger Delta, there has never been a community targeted fund for development as PIB.
“Now, from nothing, we have 3% of the operational budget of the oil companies for the host communities, as their operating cost increases per year, same for the value of the 3%.
Recall that since the bill was passed, the percentage for hot community has been an issue, with various calls seeking its reversal. However, Ubawuike has said those not comfortable with the bill should give it a chance, stressing that there may be a need for its amendment as it progresses.
He said those criticising the bill lack adequate knowledge of it, adding that if the funds are used judiciously, people will appreciate Buhari’s efforts.
He said, “It is misinformation and disinformation. Only the wealthy few who have access to print and electronic media are against it. The majority of Niger Deltans support it. Though not the percentage we expected, but it is better than nothing.
“Let the fund be judiciously applied to get to the vulnerable oil-bearing communities who bear the brunt of environmental degradation and ecological problems associated with oil exploration and exploitation. They will appreciate this provision.
“I thank President Buhari for expeditiously assenting to the PIB, now PIA, after over 16 years of its been in the doldrums. The political will he demonstrated in signing the bill into law is uncommon. He has once again shown that he loves the Niger Delta Region and is committed to its development.
“It is not the amount of accrual that is the problem. The problem is in the judicious use of the fund for the purpose it is meant for.
“Remember, we have had the 13% derivation fund, NDDC and Amnesty Program. Trillions of Naira have accrued to the Niger Delta region through these provisions. But can we in good conscience say they have been judiciously applied to the region’s development? Can we honestly see the effect or projects executed in the area proportionate to the monies received so far?
“Those middle men that have held down the region by squandering its commonwealth are the ones crying blue murder. We need to make progress as a people. There should be a paradigm shift and change of the developmental narrative of the region.” Ubawuike stated.