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Oil-producing communities badly hurt by PIA, says Udom Emmanuel

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AKWA-IBOM State Governor Udom Emmanuel has called on the Federal Government to review the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to reflect the demands of oil-producing communities in the country.

He urged the government to increase the three per cent oil companies’ operating expenses approved for host communities by the law to five per cent.

Speaking on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ on Thursday, the governor said he would not whip up any sentiment to further incense the protesting oil-producing communities.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill into law on August 16.

The law aims to drive investment in the oil industry, turn the loss-making, government-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into a transparent, profit-driven firm, and an institution that guarantees investors’ confidence.

It is also targeted at evolving a framework for the oil and gas industry.

While the law gives three per cent of the NNPC’s operating expenses to the oil-producing communities, it approves the deployment of 30 per cent of the organisation’s profits into oil prospecting.

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Though the government has explained that what would go into the host communities could be more than the current budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), opinion leaders in the South-South, a region producing the bulk of the nation’s crude, are sad with the development.

Speaking on the TV programme, Emmanuel expressed hope that the Federal Government would allow the wish of the communities to prevail in the Act.

“If I want to speak (about the PIA) in public, I might go a little bit harsh or sound a little bit sentimental. But, it hurts us badly as oil-producing communities that (we got) a paltry three per cent. What was the essence of going round, collecting memoranda that were not even considered at all?

“It hurts us so badly, and a whole lot of agitation down here. Our people are not happy. I must let the whole world know that… 

“Three per cent that they are allocating to a host community is not enough by any ramification. I don’t want to sound alarmist here; I’m trying to make sure that we pacify our people, hoping that something will be done as soon as possible,” Emmanuel said. 

Meanwhile, President Buhari had requested an amendment to the Act in a letter read at the Senate on Tuesday.

But the amendment the president sought did not capture the communities’ agitations.

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Buhari wanted the lawmakers to remove the ministers of petroleum and finance from the board of the NNPC, as prescribed by the Act.

The president also requested that the lawmakers increase non-executive members of the NNPC from two to six.

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