South South Senators Demand Lukman's Sack.
South South Senators want the immediate sack of Petroleum Minister, Rilwanu Lukman, withdrawal of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and a review of the lay offs in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which they say is against the region.
They have also asked President Umaru Yar,Adua to implement the report of the Niger Delta Technical Committee, headed by Ledum Mitee, and consult with Governors and other stakeholders to fashion out an enduring framework for the zone.
The group described the retrenchment in the NNPC as "arrogant, cynical and insensitive" at a time when "a strategic and sustainable approach to the amnesty should be the immediate concern" of the government.
Caucus leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, accompanied by 18 colleagues, addressed a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, where he demanded: -Immediate withdrawal and review of the PIB to ensure it tackles the agitation of the people, particularly on royalties to oil communities and states, and protecting the environment.
-The sack of Lukman "as he has become a needless cog in the wheel of progress for (Yar,Adua) as we seek a true and lasting solution to the Niger Delta issue."-A review of the reorganisation in the NNPC and reversal of policy regarding Petroleum Training Institute, Warri. Ndoma-Egba noted the PIB "neither addresses the fundamental issues of the degraded environment of the region nor the participation of its people in their God-given endowments. This we totally reject.
"It is our position that an oil industry Bill at this time must encapsulate the amnesty and indeed provide a legal basis for the amnesty. The current Bill instead negates the amnesty and seeks to preserve the objectionable state of degradation and deprivation of the region."
He added that Abuja,s amnesty can only remain an ingredient in a palatable cocktail of many ingredients, including the report of the Mitee Committee, the PIB, equity and justice, rapid infrastructural, and human development, remediation of the environment, and resource control.
Bayelsa legislators have also kicked against the PIB, warning that it could rock the peace efforts.
They asked other state Assemblies in the South South to stand behind their Governors to reverse the relocation of the Petroleum University to Kaduna and the dominance of a cabal in the oil sector.
Jonathan Ogboibite, who moved the motion, said Yar,Adua has good intentions to confront the challenges of the Niger Delta - "with the recent approval of N100 billion by the National Assembly and the extension of amnesty to militants" - but said the PIB may thwart such efforts.
"The Bill is a deliberate move to further marginalise the people of the Niger Delta. It will be against the principle of fair play, equity and natural justice. To douse the tension in the region, the Federal Government should be seen to be taking every opportunity to develop the area rather than taking things out of it", he argued.
However, Lukman countered in Abuja that the PIB is a fair deal for oil-communities and is in the best interest of the country. He told the Senate joint Committees on Petroleum Resources and Gas that the Bill "is meant to protect investment and ensure the conditions are better for more investments. There is shortage of finance and the need for more investments necessitated the Bill."
He said the government wants the joint venture companies in the oil and gas sector without having to resort to government funds, and "I want to assure you that the government is trying to put the sector on a smooth plane. We want everybody to operate in an atmosphere in consent with the spirit of fair play and justice.
"We want to ensure that the law is fair, and just, and anybody who tries to pretend we are operating a law to deny some people is not true. It will not make sense for the country to enact a law that denies investment where huge money is required and to enact such a law will be a disservice to the country.
"We have not drafted a law that is sacrilegious; it is not the Bible or the Koran; the government is open to suggestions and intends to improve on the law."