AMID growing concerns, the people of Niger Delta have released a 19-page demand, among which is immediate review of Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 by the National Assembly.
It was signed by former Editorial Board chairman of The Guardian Newspaper, Prof. G.G. Darah; Prof. Lucky Akaruese, convener of Niger Delta Alternative Convergence (NDAC); Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey; a traditional ruler from Rivers State, Dr. Chris Akani; National Coordinator of South-South Elders Forum, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe; National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); Senator Ibok Essien and 400 others.
The document was put together by NDAC. The document, which was made available to newsmen in Uyo at a one-day conference, noted: “PIA is inadequate in addressing the challenges of our region. On the contrary, several provisions therein reinforce those challenges. In particular, we note the provisions on community responsibility for protecting oil infrastructures, which effectively criminalises our people, provisions on gas flaring, which effectively permits the practice, provisions on establishing the host communities funds, which gives primacy to oil companies and fails to capture the interest and concerns of our communities.”
“Review gas flare fines to reflect same amount as commercial value of natural gas in international market, transfer gas flare fines to host communities fund to address environmental and health remediation, eliminate the section of PIA that places the responsibility to protect oil installations on host communities.
The Niger Delta people also called for “immediate release to the public of the forensic audit report on the NDDC and prosecution of those found to have fleeced the Commission. An immediate review of the NDDC Act to ensure the following: That all project of the Commission derives from a thorough needs assessment conducted with communities and approved by them. That the award of contracts by the NDDC follow the same due process established by the Public Procurement Act to ensure transparency, prudence, fairness and competitiveness; that all abandoned project in the Niger Delta take priority attention over new ones.
The declaration also charged governments at federal, state and local levels to take immediate action to address massive unemployment and poverty in the region.