New petroleum law, injustice to South-South —Orbih

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The Peoples Democratic Party in the South-South has said that the Petroleum Industry law recently signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has not addressed the injustice done oil-bearing Niger Delta communities.

This is contained in a statement by Chief Dan Orbih, National Vice Chairman, South-South of Nigeria’s main opposition party on Tuesday.

Buhari had signed the PIB into law on Monday in Abuja to further address challenges of development in the Niger Delta region.

Orbi, however, in the statement which he personally signed, described the law as not only insensitive but a brazen act of injustice.

He said that the President had ignored the huge outcry of the people of the South-South over the meagre allocation of three per cent to the oil-bearing communities in the new law.

According to him, the gaps in the law will only bring back the agitation for resource control by the people of the region.

He expressed dismay that the President hurried to assent to the disputed bill adding that it did not mean well for the South-South.

The party chieftain, therefore, called on the people of the region to reject the ruling party and embrace PDP.

The statement read in part, “Stakeholders in the South-South region have taken a critical look at the Petroleum Industry Bill recently enacted into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Stakeholders note very painfully that it is insensitive to the plight and demands of the people of the Niger Delta who have, over the years, witnessed the destruction of their lands through oil exploration and production.

“We consider the concession of three per cent to oil producing communities as mere tokenism, and a brazen act of injustice which must be reviewed without delay.”

He added that the President’s hasty endorsement of the bill, while ignoring its implications for restiveness in the zone, showed disdain for rigorous debate and tacky attitude towards issues of sustainable development.

“We condemn the rush to sign into law an unwholesome bill still in disputation and must say that we are not at all surprised,” he added.

He warned that the region could become a ground for renewed agitations and heightened tension as restive youths could mobilise for total resource control in the face of perceived injustice and inequity.

According to him, for as long as injustice persists, let the government take heed that the clamour for total resource control will continue.

“We cannot give up on what is rightfully ours,” he added.

Orbih, however, urged youths of the region to remain calm and make their agitations peaceful, while also imploring them to embrace the opposition PDP.

“The South-South will continue to demand justice, equity and fairness, and would legally resist any attempt to subjugate the region economically, politically and socially.

“Embrace PDP as it holds the best promise of a better and progressive Niger Delta built on honour, justice and equity,” he said.

The petroleum law was in the works for several years and analysts had proposed urgent amendments to some provisions which failed to address the needs of the people of Niger Delta.

(NAN)

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