The Conference Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives on a Bill for an Act to provide Legal, Governance, Regulatory and Fiscal Framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, the Development of Host Communities has adopted 3 per cent as the actual annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year in the upstream petroleum operations affecting the host communities for funding of the Host Communities Trust Fund. With this development, the Committee has adopted the Senate Version which had last week approved 3 percent while the House of Representatives settled for 5 percent when the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB was passed.
The Conference Committee has also adopted the 30% approved for Frontier basins development for oil exploration as approved by the Senate last week. Resolutions of the Senate was sequel to the presentation and consideration of the Conference Committee report on the Petroleum Industry Bill, 2021( SB.510) by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi. The Senate Leader who noted that that Conference Committee was designed t o harmonise areas of differences in the PIB as passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives, said that the differences in the Bill as passed by the two Chambers are in Clauses 9, 29, 32, 33, 41, 47, 48, 52, 64, 79, 86, 94, 104, 125, 160, 240, 310, 317, 318 and first schedule.
Earlier, Senator Seriake Dickson, who raised a point of Order, said that he walked out of the Senate because of the three percent equity share for Host Communities. Seriake who came under Order 43 which has to do on personal explanation said that history should note that they are not part of what he described as obnoxious decision against the people of the Niger Delta region. Seriake said, “First of all you were all here today during the consideration of the conference report and the observations and interjections that I made by which the Senate President permitted me under privileges to make some comments and I made it clear that the three percent ab initio is unacceptable, it is insensitive. It does not serve the national interest because the opportunity cost that this two percent difference will make in terms of security management of the region and of the communities is not helpful to investment inflow that people are portraying.
“In any case this is not coming from the Federal Government that is why I cannot understand the basis. This money is to be taken out of the operation cost by the IOCs, and the IOCs are not complaining. Yet this National Assembly and this Senate pegged it at three percent. There was a time we went into conference and they still upheld the three percent. This morning I drew the attention of the Senate President and the Senators that in all good conscience to what has happened to the community fund, we will not sit down with them during consensus and I worked out. I worked out with some colleagues initially the very day this was passed and as I informed the Senate President even during the President’s dinner when we were seated there to honour the President, and we got the report of this conference committee, I worked out, a number of senators also left.
“And today, we left because I don’t want history, to record us on the wrong side. Some of the Senators who followed me, I thank all of them. We don’t want history to record that we were part of this obnoxious decision against the producing communities and our people. It is also a decision that is not helpful to the national cause. This is a story that has just started and I hope that it ends well for Nigeria.”