The Nigerian senate is on the verge of making history as it is about to finalize the proceedings on one of the most controversial and interest laden bills ever presented on the floor of the house.
Anything that has to do with the number one income generating funnel for the country will definitely raise interests from almost all quarters, so it is no surprise that the much needed overhaul in the oil industry has taken close to two decades to get to this point albeit surrounded with many concerns as what the final document should contain.
One of such major key holders who have raised concerns about the contents of the bill and how it will be affect the country going forward is the oil producing states where the cash cow is gotten from.
It will only take a heartless human being to visit these areas and witness the dissemination, destruction and damage the exploration of crude has done to host communities ever since this gem was discovered in their backyards and not feel their pain. The times I spent there were filled with constant complains by these people who have been so badly treated and given so little from the same nation feeding off the resources their own region has, in abundance.
Ways of life known to this people, their heritage and customs have literally been taken away or wiped out by the activities of the oil companies who are backed with all licenses on earth issued by the government. They have plundered the region with reckless abandon.
Rivers have been permanently polluted by oil spills killing aquatic life that was the primary source of livelihood for indigenes, farm lands destroyed by fires from the same oil spills, while large chunks of their arable lands have been tagged “No Go Areas” or “Keep Off” because of the huge pipe lines passing through the region heading for the north.
The joy of experiencing fresh air too has now become somewhat of an impossible wish as black soot fills the air. It is very sad to know that babies breathe this in, but with oil companies gas flaring hydrocarbons 24/7 what options do they have?
All these was supposed to be captured in the bill, to ensure the rights of Nigerians from these areas will be protected, their region cleaned up and prevent further exploitation, but alas the document has not taken all these into consideration.
Presently, the two chambers are proposing a meager 3% and 5% to be given to the host communities. The governors from the south under the umbrella of Southern Governors Forum have spoken against these figures. The Pan Niger-Delta Forum called it “provocative” and “wasteful” considering what was earmarked for other regions.
Will this quell the agitations of the people from the Niger-Delta region or lead to more crisis?
They obviously feel extremely cheated, and so my guess will be on the latter and rightly so. Adequate compensation should be the watchword for any government who wants to appease the region for the number of years they have suffered, and this PIB is clearly not heading in that direction.