There seems to be a bi-partisan consensus that incumbent President did a yeoman’s job by giving assent to the aged Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), BUT Niger Delta militants who rejected some contents of the Bill which they claimed were unfavourable to the region as prepared by the current National Assembly (NASS), have plans to “HUMBLE THE ECONOMY” through resumption of bombings of pipelines and strategic oil installations!
And whereas Nigeria’s economy is in a dire strait! Unemployment rate is at 33.3%, while double digit inflation of goods and services was at 17% in the Quarter 1 of 2021, and risen to 17.28% in Quarter 2. The country’s debt profile of N32.9 trillion naira in Quarter 1 is still rising because the APC government of President Buhari still borrows with IMPUNITY!
On 19th August, 2021, the Federal Government disclosed that it would borrow N5.6trillion naira to fund the 2022 Budget while it is indebted to the WORLD BANK in the sum of US$11.19 billion dollars! DEBT SERVICING was summed up at 24% of the 2021 (N13.5trillion naira), Budget!
Definitely, this is not an opportune time to burst, destroy or blow up pipelines in order to HUMBLE Nigeria’s economy according to THREATS made by the militant Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), now headed by a woman leader credited to be a top notch member of the group’s ELITE STRIKE FORCES which attacked and brought down the Chevron Valve Platform on 4th May, 2016, and the Shell Forcados 48-inch Export line on the 3rd of June, 2016, and the Exxon Mobil Qua Iboe 48 Crude Oil Pipeline on the 11th July, 2016!
DID PRESIDENT BUHARI STUDY THE PIB BEFORE APPENDING HIS SIGNATURE?
Although the President thought he was very clever to score cheap political points by quickly assenting to the very controversial, defective, contentious and bungled Petroleum Industry Bill which history credited with 20 years journey from the first to the ninth National Assembly from ex-Olusegun Obasanjo, PDP 1999 to the current APC 2021 administrations, he has inadvertently exposed the fact that he did not thoroughly study the DOCUMENT before putting pen to paper having served as a Military Minister of Petroleum!
BUT in continuation of his belief that he was on the right track has set up a 8-man Implementation Committee which OMITTED the Vice President, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), will work for 12 months to actualize the smooth running the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which WILL NOW provide adequate legal framework and enabling regulatory provisions for the otherwise mumbo-jumbo all-comers enterprise of several decades which had made multi billionaires of thousands of Nigerians; in the military and among the politicians of consecutive governments, including portfolio investors, private entrepreneurs, not excluding “hangers on”/political jobbers in the corridors of power!
THE “BUCK” STOPS AT THE PRESIDENT’S TABLE!
We are much aware that no amount of protests, criticisms, castigations, condemnations demands, ultimatums or free offer of solutions by patriotic citizens of this great nation ever had any positive impact on President Buhari and his selected CABAL, We need to inform him that, this PIA could be his ALBATROSS if he turned deaf ears to GENUINE DEMANDS of the Niger Delta Youths and continue to live the life of Emperor NERO of ROME, who dinned and wined when his country was on FIRE in 64 AD!
FACTS ON GROUND!
The oil-rich Niger Delta Region comprising of the South-South States of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers, have been the most degraded and environmentally-abused and devastated – with much emphasis on the OGONI LAND of Rivers State which attracted United Nations intervention since 2015, but with nothing to show for it in 2021! QUESTION: Is the President aware that Crude Oil from this region provides up 75% of Nigeria’s export earnings and when combined with Natural Gas extractions, rose to 97% of the nation’s Foreign Exchange revenue annual budget input as the major FOREIGN EXCHANGE earner BUT that in spite of the meagre allocation of 13% revenue of taxes on oil and other natural resources according to derivation formula to the region and other oil-producing States in South East/West, traumatized citizens of the region died daily of horrible environmental pollution of its worst type?
While We do not deny the fact that consecutive Federal Government Administrations fulfilled regular constitutional deductions of the 13% Derivation formula, allocated special funds to the multi-faceted development programmes of the region through Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to the tune of N9.43 trillion naira between 1999 to 2019, a period of 20 years, a lot still needed to be done through the new PIA , which should bring sanity to the Region!
However, the 30% of NNPC profits recommended by the new PIA to fund exploration activities in frontier basis is untenable, unworkable and very unrealistic for the very reason of this supposition that: If NNPC for some unexplainable but obvious reasons did not make profits at a particular season then, does it that translate to the fact that the said frontier basins would become grounded and comatose?
Another area of contention is the Host Communities Development funding demand of 5% in the Bill but now reduced to 3% in the assented Act! According to Clause 240 (2), the SETTLOR (i.e. operator of an oil licence), should pay 3% of total profits to Host Communities for development while operators MUST prevent environmental pollution and gas flaring BUT provide immediate remedial safety measures in case of unforeseen incidents!
The clamour for the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) aka. “Nigerian Towers of Corruption”, to be UNBUNDLED, received attention in the new Act at last! Clause 53 has mandated the Minister of Petroleum, (by implication, Mr. President), to incorporate NNPC as a Limited Liability Company with 100% Federal Government share ownership NOT later than SIX MONTHS of coming into effect of the new Act for it to operate in accordance with the Companies and Allied Matters Act. (CAMA).
IT IS GOOD NEWS THAT SOME LAWS ARE NOW IN PLACE TO REGULATE THE UPSTREAM, MIDSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM SECTORS OF THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY BUT OUR CANDID OPINION IS THAT CONTENTIOUS AREAS SHOULD BE FINE-TUNED DURING THE 12-MONTH PERIOD OF PREPARATION FOR IMPLEMENTATION!
THE OLD ORDER MUST NOW GIVE WAY TO THE NEW!
Can the President who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources unequivocally inform Nigerians and the international community the exact figure of oil being lifted from Nigeria per day? IS THERE ANY FORM OF METERING TO ENSURE TRANSPARENCY, PRUDENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY AT THE DEPOTS ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL BEST PRACTICE?
Investigative journalism has revealed that from time immemorial, official lifting bays and volume of lifted crude oil was TOP SECRET to the presidency and so was the allocation/award by Mr. President of OIL LICENCE, OIL RIGS, OIL WELLS to very special individuals which had been the exclusive but unconstitutional right of the number one man who made billionaires of his chosen friends at his whim and caprice AS MINISTER OF PETROLEUM!
AND the creeks militants and their collaborators also resorted to lifting their own portion of crude, refine and sell them through bunkering to ready markets! It is on record that the Army, Naval, Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), operatives carried out several raids on identified illegal refineries in those terrains but no meaningful arrests nor successful prosecution of offenders could be fingered in all these past years! According to some reports, official collusion with the criminals changed the operation plan!
MILITANCY AT THE CREEKS FROM OBASANJO TO YAR ‘ARDUA!
Militancy was at its highest peak when the late President Umaru Yar ‘Adua assumed office in 2007, but he was quick to identify the solution through granting of a GENERAL AMNESTY in which all militant groups in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria “lay down” their arms in 2007 to save the economy which was almost grounded through co-ordinated pipe line vandalization!
NIGER DELTA YOUTHS SHOULD DIRECT THEIR ENERGY TO WINNING ELECTIONS AT ALL LEVELS IN 2023!
The future of this nation belongs to Nigerian Youths and We will continue to encourage them to close ranks and FLUSH OUT all the old generation who have held on to power since 1999 till date with their collective VOTES!
No meaningful victory is ever achieved through violence! NDA and other militant groups should “sheath their swords” and strategize collectively to give to helpless innocent Nigerians a peaceful Nigeria of their dreams!
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts’’ (Zech 4:6)
I am, yours sincerely, Dr. David B.A. Olufon. 08130669886, 08080243066. g-mail-dvdolufon@gmail.