The war of words over the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) got messier in the Senate yesterday when southern Senators accused the North of dominating oil bloc allocations. For good measure, the latter is asking President Goodluck Jonathan to revoke and re-award the oil blocs, marginal fields and prospection licences in line with the principles of federal character. It was on the second of the three-day debate on the bill.
Chairman of the Senate Rules and Business Committee, Ita Enang, led the verbal war when he said 83 per cent of oil bloc allocations are presently held by northerners.
Northern Senators drew the first blood on Tuesday during the first day of debate on the PIB in the Senate when the zone accused the South of frittering away over N11 trillion revenue in over 13 years. But the South replied yesterday, saying that the North dominates the oil industry with over 80 per cent ownership. Enang listed the alleged 11 big players in the oil industry.
They are Cavendish Petroleum, the operators of OML 110, awarded to Alhaji Mai Deribe of Borno State (North East), nets an average of about N4 billion monthly; Others are:
They are operators of OML 112 and OML 117. A former petroleum minister and former Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretary-General, Rilwanu Lukman, another northerner, manages AMNI oil blocs and with very key interests in the NNPC/Vitol trading deal:
Offor still has a stake in Addax operations in Nigeria:
It has substantial stakes in Nigeria’s oil exploration industry, both in Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe. Enang told the chamber that he sourced the information from several websites.
Daily Sun could not, however, confirm the authenticity of Sen. Enang’s claim on the ownership of the oil blocs even as Senate President David Mark stopped the closed door session. He held that it would be improper to malign people without proper evidence, even on the floor of the Senate.
But Enang insisted: “These need to be looked into, revoked and re-awarded. The federal character, which is a principle applicable in every aspect of our national existence, should also be brought to bear in the application of our oil blocs, marginal fields and prospection licences.”
The North was, however, unrelenting on the huge derivation funds allegedly wasted by the South-South. Former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, took off from where Ahmad Lawan left off on Tuesday. He reiterated that having allegedly frittered away over N11 trillion over the years, “if you add appropriation, the money is in the region of N17 trillion and N18 trillion.
“The issue isn’t how much derivation is given, but how it’s used…” Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi wondered why the entire South had been gas-piped while the North was left untouched.
“This bill is about the interest of this country; yet, the entire country has been gas-piped, but not the North. Will the Federal Government undertake gas piping in the North… The National Frontier Exploration Services which was in the version submitted by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua has been changed.
“This time, the bill comes and makes it a sub-department under a technical bureau. How can a technical bureau take care of something as moorland as exploration activities?” Rallying for the South, Chairman of the Navy Committee, Senator Chris Anyanwu, expressed support for the host community fund (HCF), which she noted is a welcome development in the oil industry.
“The element I like most in the bill is the host community fund because it removes the motive for crime. It gives them a sense of belonging and ownership”, she said. Although former Gombe State governor Danjuma Goje advocated for a reduction in allocation to governors, he toed a conciliatory path when he urged his colleagues to pass the bill but amend contentious clauses in the PIB.
“I was one of the people completely opposed to the bill but from the trend of the debate, it looked like the Senate is ready to do a thorough job without fear or favour. For this reason, I will join others in asking that this bill be considered while the contentious positions are addressed.
“It is necessary that the powers be reduced so that whosoever is the minister is not a super minister”, he said. Chairman of the States and Local Government Administration Committee, Kabiru Gaya, also urged the Senate to concentrate on “the offshore which is divided between deep and shallow waters.
“There is no good sharing formula; the essence of this bill is to ensure that there is balance”, while Finance Committee Chairman, Ahmed Makarfi said that “giving 10 per cent net profit of oil companies profit to the host communities might not curb illegal bunkering because it is not perpetrated by ordinary members of the community.”
Unlike his kinsmen, but much in line with Goje and Gaya, Makarfi supported the bill as submissions on the new PIB end today.