The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the Hon. Ishaka Bawa-led 23 man- ad-hoc committee on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) for recommending the removal of discretional powers of the president to grant petroleum even as it urged Nigerian electorate to deprive lawmakers currently seeking re-election votes if they are found to have thwarted the PIB or the implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland.
ERA/FoEN, in a statement issued in Lagos, said the decision became imperative in view of the delayed passage of the PIB and the controversies over several key clauses at both chambers of the National Assembly.
The Hon. Bawa committee which found the discretionary powers removed recommended instead, a competitive bidding process, insisting that the controversial provision runs contrary to Section 191 of original bill. The committee also denies the Minister of Petroleum power to either serve as chairman or recommend to the president the appointment of boards of some agencies under the law.
ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Ojo said: “While we commend this move to ensure the spirit of the PIB is not whittled, we are determined more than ever before that the upcoming election is another opportunity for the electorate to demonstrate people power. Lawmakers who booby-trapped the PIB and the UNEP report implementation will not get the votes of the electorate”
Ojo explained that the PIB remains the most anticipated legislation in Nigeria’s legislative history even as he added that, “since its submission in 2008 during the sixth National Assembly by former President Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua, the bill has not been passed because of the many loopholes instigated by oil corporations and some lawmakers who feel the legislation threatened the existing structure which allows corruption and lack of transparency”
Ojo insisted that the PIB regime that degraded communities of the Niger Delta subscribe to must guarantee protection of local livelihoods and should entail Polluter Pays principle.
It must also ensure regular compliance by the oil companies through its provisions on specific institutional mechanisms to ensure oil companies discharge their duties to government, the environment and people of Nigeria, particularly the host or bearing communities as the case may be.
Additionally, there must be periodic environmental audit –annual or biannual, with specific recommendations for remediation in case of pollution or degradation in the case of oil exploration, distribution as the case may be; and ensure community participation/broad-based involvement in the management and administration.
“Now is the time of reckoning. The electorate will no longer be deceived. They should vote only for lawmakers working for the good of the country and the improvement of social well-being in the oil impacted communities. No PIB, no re-electio