There are indications that governors of Nigeria’s Northern states may have made up their minds to reject the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), now before the National Assembly, as they believe that it is intended to take care of the Niger Delta alone.
The governors have already set up a committee, headed by Ahmed Mosur, to study the proposed bill and its implications for the people of the region. It has 90 days within which to submit a report.
At the weekend, the Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu, stated that the northern governors have identified many provisions in the draft bill that are detrimental to the people of the region.
Speaking last Friday when he received traditional rulers in the state who paid him a Sallah visit at his residence, Aliyu said the people of the zone would need to study the bill before taking a position on it, noting that they had noticed “many things” that will affect them negatively and that those things needed to be discussed.
“We need to understand how to approach our members in the national and state assemblies. When issues like that come up, we need to discuss it so that the interest of our people who elected us will be protected,” he said.
Our investigations reveal that one of the sore points for Northerners is the granting of more powers to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, which is recommended in the proposed bill. If passed as it is, she will also become the chairman of the boards of plum parastatals in the Ministry, as well as the boards of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, the National Petroleum Assets Management Corporation and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), over which she will exercise enormous powers to scrap, whenever she likes.
Furthermore, under the terms of the bill, whose drafting she supervised with President Goodluck Jonathan, she will directly supervise the Petroleum Technical Bureau and the Upstream Petroleum Inspectorate, and recommend its officials for appointment.
In addition to all this, the zone is also angry at a provision for the setting up of a Petroleum Host Community Fund to which all oil companies will pay 10 per cent of their profit from upstream activities. An influential politician from the region said, “This section will make several billions of Naira available for the development of the Niger Delta, in addition to the funds provided to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta. You can see that the country is finished. That bill is meant to take care of the people of Niger Delta alone. We won’t support it.”