PIB: North, South rift deepens in Senate
Category: Lead stories Written by Isiaka Wakili
. ‘Bill will kill non-oil states’
Row over the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) deepened in the Senate yesterday as Niger Delta senators and their counterparts from the North refused to shift ground on the proposed special fund for oil producing communities.
The controversial bill provides that oil companies would set aside 10 per cent of their upstream activities profit for the communities, a provision that continues to draw criticism from other parts of the country.
Debate on the legislation began in the Senate on Tuesday, with opinions varying on whether the 10 per cent clause was justified.
When the debate resumed yesterday, Niger Delta senators stoutly defended the clamour for more funds to the oil producing areas while their northern counterparts kicked against it.
Senator Ita Enang (PDP, Akwa Ibom) described the northern senators’ opposition to the fund as unwarranted, claiming that 83 percent of the oil blocks in the country are owned by northerners.
Senate President David Mark interrupted him to ask if he had “facts and figures to substantiate” his claim.
Enang replied: “Yes. Some of those holding these oil blocks are richer than the whole region of their states. For instance, an oil block holder from the North-East is richer than the entire states in that geo-political zone.
“Now, they’re saying Niger Delta is taking too much when only one person is taking from the proceeds he makes from each of the oil blocks more than what even the derivation that the totality of the states are taking.
“The holders of these oil blocks have become so rich and the whole country becomes poorer for it. We should revoke all oil blocks and reallocate them either through this bill or an act of the executive because it’s the wealth of the nation.”
‘Northerners holding most oil blocks’
As Enang spoke, he was cheered by his colleagues from the Niger Delta.
He went on naming names of northerners he said owned oil blocks. He said: “Cavendish Petroleum, the operators of OML 110, awarded to Alhaji Mai Deribe of Borno State (North east), nets an average of about N4 billion monthly. Seplat/Platform Petroleum, operators of the ASUOKPU/UMUTU marginal field with Prince Sanusi Lamido (a relation of the CBN governor) as a major shareholder and director.
“South Atlantic Petroleum Limited (SAPETRO), established by Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, who is also the Chairman of ENI Nigeria Limited. SAPETRO partnered with Total Upstream Nigeria Limited (TUPNI) and Brasoil Oil Services Company Nigeria Limited to become operators of the OPL 246.
“AMNI International Petroleum and Development Company is owned by Alhaji (Colonel) Sani Bello of Kotangora, Niger State. They are operators of OML 112 and OML 117. A former Petroleum Minister and former OPEC Chairman, Rilwanu Lukman, another northerner, manages AMNI oil blocs and with very key interests in the NNPC/Vitol trading deal.
“Oriental Energy Resources Limited, a company owned by Alhaji Indimi runs three oil blocs: OML 15, the Oldwok field and the Ebok field; Alhaji Aminu Dantata’s Express Petroleum and Gas Limited operates OML 108; OML 113 allocated to Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Limited is owned by Alhaji. W.I. Folawiyo; OPL 291 was awarded to Starcrest Energy Nigeria Limited, owned by Emeka Offor, which was sold by Starcrest to Addax Petroleum. Emeka Offor still has a stake in Addax operations in Nigeria.
“Mike Adenuga’s Conoil is the oldest indigenous oil exploration industry in Nigeria with six oil blocs. Alhaji Saleh Mohammed Gambo’s North East Petroleum Limited is the holder of the OPL 215 license. NOR’EASTER Petroleum which it is known as, was awarded the blocs OPL 276 and OPL 283 and closing thereupon a Joint Venture Agreement with Centrica Resources Nigeria Limited and CCC Oil and Gas; and INTEL is owned by Atiku, Yar’Adua and Ado Bayero has substantial stakes in Nigeria’s oil exploration industry, both in Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe.”
Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje (PDP, Gombe Central) said it was evident from the debate so far that 90 percent of the senators agreed that the 10 percent fund for oil producing communities is too much, and that if allowed, the rest of the country would just “die off”.
He said, “I was initially opposed to this bill, but now, from the debate so far, I’m convinced that the Senate is ready to work on it without favour or fear. We’ve reached a consensus that the powers proposed for the petroleum minister should be whittled down.
“Also, a consensus is also being built around the proposed National Frontier Exploration Agency and that there should be a sure source of funding for this agency... I agree that the host communities should be taken care of, but 90 percent of the senators who have contributed to the debate agreed that additional 10 percent fund for oil producing communities is too much.
“This bill has exposed the inadequacy of the implementation of the 13 percent derivation funds. We should amend the constitution to give the oil producing communities 10 percent of the 13 percent derivation, and the remaining 3 percent to the state governments there for whatever they want.” The chairman of the Southern Senators’ Forum, Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South), argued that the most important aspect of the bill remains the provision in Sections 116 to 118 talking about the Host Community Fund.
“As we speak, the militants in the Niger Delta are jubilating that the additional 10 percent fund is coming. I can’t say what would happen if they’re denied of the money. Whatever people have said here about the Niger Delta Ministry, the Amnesty Programme and the NDDC is a general provision, the Host Community Fund is specifically for the oil producing communities. If oil is produced everywhere in this country, maybe this bickering and suspicion would reduce,” Manager said.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu (PDP, Nasarawa West) said while a reform of the oil sector is needed owing to the corruption and “the record-breaking” theft of crude oil, which according to him, the bill is seeking to tackle, the bill contradicts the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“Since we started paying the 13 percent derivation, the oil producing states have received about N11 trillion. We should ask questions about how these funds have been used so far in the region. If the Host Community Fund is allowed, most of the other parts of the country would be economically oppressed.”
Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers) said, “The 13 percent derivation is not for certain people, it is for the oil producing areas; while the proposed Host Community Fund is for the oil producing communities. We should understand the definition of host communities. Virtually every community in Nigeria is a host community because oil pipelines pass through virtually all communities. Those whose states don’t produce oil should pray to God to give them oil.”
Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) dismissed the Niger Delta senators’ claim that the 13 percent derivation was not based on oil production. He said, “The Amnesty Programme, the Niger Delta Ministry and the NDDC were created because of the neglect the region had suffered. This bill is not implementable, and it is practically impossible to give money to pipeline host communities. What is the projection of the Host Community Fund? We need to know all this.”
Senator Chris Anyanwu (APGA, Imo East) said, “Brazil gives 18 percent of the oil revenue to host communities. The Fund would calm down the restiveness in the sector. Any community in the country where there is oil would benefit from the Fund.”
Senators Sahabi Yau (ANPP, Zamfara) and Kabiru Gaya (ANPP, Kano South) said the 10 percent fund being proposed could not be reconciled with the existing 13 percent derivation without amending the 1999 Constitution.
Senator Gbenga Kaka (ACN, Ogun) expressed concern that “rather than focus on how to bake the cake, people are concerned about how to share the cake.”
Senator Olufemi Lanlehin (ACN, Oyo) said the bill ought to state the percentage of the oil block licences to be issued by the president and should talk about alternatives to oil.
Debate on the bill continues today.