PIA, water bill anti-Niger Delta, says group 

Posted by News Express | 1 September 2021 | 319 times

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•Senate President Ahmad Lawan
 
 
By OMON-JULIUS ONABU
 
A coalition of Niger Delta pressure groups under the canopy of Forum for Ethnic Nationalities of Niger Delta (FENND) has described as outrageous the institution of certain obnoxious laws by the Nigerian State that undermine the interests of the Niger Delta, saying that the three (3) percent allocation to the host communities in the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was a recipe for a resurgence of crisis in the oil-rich region.
 
Specifically, the FENND stated that the vexacious and undemocratic provisions of the PIA, together with the Water Resources Bill, left no one in doubt that somebody was hell-bent on foisting internal colonisation on the Niger Delta region.
 
The Convener, Forum for Ethnic Nationalities of Niger Delta, Dortimi Kester Tawari, noted that the constant strangulation of the region by the Federal Government through administrative manipulation , does not portray the government as one that is genuinely concerned in the best interest of a country seeking peaceful coexistence amongst its ethnic nationalities.
 
According to him, FENND at its summit held recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, reviewed the situation in the country and in particular issues having direct impact on the Niger Delta and her people, on our environment and on the prosperity of our future generations.
 
Addressing newsmen in Asaba, FENND vowed to initiate legal processes and pushback against identified repressive and oppressive pieces of legislation as well as sectionally motivated tendencies against the people of the Niger Delta region as exemplified in the Petroleum Industry Act and the Water Resources Bill still before the National Assembly, because they are clearly skewed against the region that bears the burden of the negative effects of oil exploration and exploitation especially by multi-national oil companies such as environmental degradation.
 
“The question is why the arbitrary 3% (three percent) that is neither a product of negotiation nor objective valuation of costs to the people and their environment nor compensation for products of their land to which they have universal understanding of natural rights of claim to proceeds. The rights of claim of the nation is through the rights of claim of the Niger-Delta people.
 
“If you’re only interested in the crude oil and the revenue therefrom but not interested in plight of the people, then we have the right to determine the way we want to live our lives. Whether you call it self-determination or call it self-reliant determination, whether you call it restructuring, it’s the consensus after our summit that we should explore ways to draw ourselves together as Niger Delta people and see how best we liberate ourselves legally.
 
“That we should set up a committee to draft a charter for the thnic nationalities in the Niger Delta and to apply for a status in comity of international ethnic nationalities (and) set up a legal directorate to design the pushbacks.”
 
The group also took a swipe at the proponents of the Water Resources Bill presently before the National Assembly, saying that it was synonymous with the notorious RUGA proposed by the Buhari administration and designed to further subjugate the largely impoverished people of the region, whose lives are intricately tied to the water resources.
 
“On Water Resources Bill we agreed and do declare that Water being essential to the lives of all living things including human beings is of existential value to the people and ecosystem of the Niger Delta. The terrain of the Niger -Delta compel total dependence of several communities on our waters.
 
“We observe that the Water Resources Bill is premised on Decree 101 of 1993 promulgated by the Military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida which abrogated the Federal System of Water Governance-wherein individual States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had jurisdiction over regulation, management and development of their water resources. This decree transformed into the Water Resources Act of 2004 and was subsequently incorporated into the 1999 Constitution as amended. The WRB is thus, a form of retrograde transmogrification into Military dictatorship.
 
“The current Bill viz, Federal Government taking over the rights and duties of the States via the National Water Resources Regulatory Commission is in our view perverse, unnecessary and unjustifiable.
 
“The Water Resources Bill with major emphasis on a “National Water Resources Regulatory Commission” contravenes the basic tenets of Federalism and the ‘Land Use Act’ already in use. The statutes of the National Commission can easily be misapplied for forcible water and land acquisition. In effect, the water Resources Bill, in the consideration of the forum, is another form of the offensive RUGA.
 
“Sixty percent or thereabouts of the demand side of domestic water use in Nigeria is from groundwater and this is best administered by agencies of the States, Local Governments or Communities. The processes for embarking on water projects via another level of Federal bureaucracy via a “Commission” will be grossly inefficient, nonviable and a distortion.
 
“The criminal expropriation of our natural resources by the Nigerian State through the instrumentality of unjust and morally reprehensible Laws or what is now known as “Legal Theft”; a consequence of the false preponderance of demography, coercion, hegemony, oppression, environmental injustice and health hazards against the Niger Delta People, have again been executed by the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill by the National Assembly and now assented to by Mr. President thereto now Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.”
 
Tawari said that the group had resolved to galvanize support from all ethnic nationalities and stakeholders in the Niger Delta in order to formulate legal and workable concept with the backing of the international community to end the continued injustice against the region.
 
“Water is our our livelihood in the Niger Delta and anybody that tampers with it, they are tampering with our existence, and we will challenge anybody or institution that does that,” Tawari said. (THISDAY)


Source: News Express

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