Hope rekindled for repentant militants as Gov. Akeredolu sees brighter days for oil communities

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 Ondo State Governor , Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has expressed delight at the latest move by  the Federal Government to integrate repentant militants into the amnesty programme.

Addressing a subcommittee of the National Assembly on Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, while on a courtesy visit to him in his office in Akure, Governor Akeredolu said he heaved a sigh of relief when the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo during his recent visit to the state informed him that he had directed the amnesty office to urgently take prompt action on the integration of militants who recently laid down their arms in Ondo State.

The governor who noted that the integration of the militants into the amnesty programme was overdue said the restiveness in the oil producing areas were consequent upon lack of care for both the people and communities in the area by the oil prospecting companies. 

“During his recent visit to Ondo State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo informed me that he had directed the amnesty office to urgently take prompt action on the integration of militants who recently laid down their arms in Ondo State.

“These militants felt that they were left out, which probably led to agitations, kidnap and others.

“We told them to lay down their arms and promised to integrate them into the amnesty programme, which they accepted and laid down their arms, it’s a bargain which must be kept,” he said.

The governor equally expressed hope that all legislations that would come from the Petroleum Industry Bill including the one already passed by the National Assembly and the incoming ones, particularly the Petroleum Host Communities Bill would bring about the much needed development through the petroleum resource potentials of the country.

Earlier in his speech the Team Leader, Senator Gershom Bassey representing Cross River South Senatorial District of Cross River State, had estimated that the delays in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill have caused the country as much as $15 Billion per annum in lost investments.

“In the passage of the PIB as well as the lack of the much needed reforms over the last decade have created a climate of uncertainty in Nigeria’s petroleum sector which has not been conducive in attracting further investments. 

“As we are aware, Nigeria is Africa’s largest Oil and Gas producers and the Petroleum Sector has long suffered from frequent scandals, mismanagement and lack of coherent guidelines and regulations. 

“The commercial exploitation of hydrocarbons in Nigeria is about six decades over which period, the sector has witnessed several formal and informal reforms, progressively evolving from passive participation of Nigerians to prominent indigenous players”, he said. 

Senator Bassey added that due to obsolete Policies, Practices, laws and regulations, a new reform of the sector which commenced in 2000,was expected to take the sector to greater heights and ensure that Nigeria manages her petroleum resources in line with global best practices. 

The Team Leader stated that one of the novel initiatives to successfully reform the petroleum industry was the need to split the omnibus PIB into four logical pieces of bills.

“In March 2018, the Petroleum Governance Bill (PIGB), the first of the four Bills fully passed through both Houses of the National Assembly and now with the President for assent. 

“The remaining three Bills; Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB), Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB) and the Petroleum Host Communities Bill (PHCB), complement the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) to ensure holistic reform of the petroleum industry”, he said. 

He explained that the PIAB describes how the industry ought to be managed in great detail, ensuring that licencing provisions, as well as ensuring that the sector operates with the greatest ease of doing business. 

“The PIFB ensures that the country is fiscally competitive, in particular, to attract the much needed capital for development and growth. 

“The PHCB on its own, is created for the development and management of communities that host petroleum operations and facilities to ensure fair returns to all stakeholders as well as guarantee peaceful co-existence with operators”, he added.

Senator Bassey however hinted that it was in the light of this, that the Senate Joint Committee on PIB decided to set aside some days to visit Oil Producing Areas/Host Communities to discuss with the Chief Executive of of the state, Stakeholders and Host Communities to access on the spot, the progress level impacted on the host communities. 

Other members of the committee include: Senator, Dr Victor Umeh and the Hon Mark Gbillah while the Deputy Clerk Upstream,  Alhaji Isiyaka Adinoyi led the subcommittee staff.

The Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale; Head of Service, Oluwatoyin Akinkuotu, Esq.; the Attorney General and Honourable Commissioner for Justice, Adekola Olawoye, Esq.;Honourable Commissioner for Environment, Mr Funso Esan and some appointees of the State Government joined the governor to receive the National Assembly members.

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