There has been uproar across the country over allegations that each member of the National Assembly was paid $7000 and $5000 respectively to pass the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is asymmetrically skewed in favour of the northern part of the country. Few southern federal legislators were, however, said to have rejected the largesse.
It was disclosed that copies of the report were circulated to very few lawmakers, while most members of the two chambers of the National Assembly did not receive the report before the PIB was considered and adopted by the National Assembly. The lawmakers who had been lobbied and allegedly ‘settled with money’ were said to have supported the passage of the Bill even when they did not get the report of the legislative processes to know details of the bill.
It was disclosed that a government-owned multinational company on June 28, few days to the passage of the PIB, sponsored a ‘fictitious’ retreat on the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, adjacent to Zuma Rock on the Zuba, Madalla axis, which was attended by northern governors, prominent northern leaders and the induced lawmakers. The lobby team was said to have allegedly offered $7000 to each senator and $5000 to each member of the House of Representatives.
Thereafter, on June 28, the southern legislators in the National Assembly held a meeting at Transcorp Hotel, Abuja, to reach consensus on the PIB.
Few lawmakers from the south were said to have received the alleged $7000 offered to each senator and $5000 offered to each House of Representatives member by the northern lobby group.
The controversial PIB allocates 30 per cent fund to frontier states for oil exploration, in addition to 10 per cent; but 5 per cent is being allocated to oil communities where oil and gas are already being produced.
Stakeholders argued that the north, which has no oil deposit, is allocated 40 per cent oil revenue for crude oil search and exploration, but the oil communities in the south where production is already taking place, will receive a 5 per cent oil fund.
The northern leaders were said to have argued that the Niger Delta already has NDDC, Amnesty Program and 13 per cent derivation. But others argued that all these put together do not amount to 40 per cent revenue allocated to the north that produces nothing. More so, the North East Development Commission (NEDC), a Boko Haram reward, still gulps additional revenue of the oil money from the federation account.
It was gathered that the efforts of the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Senator George Sekibo and other Niger Delta Senators in the National Assembly to argue for 10 per cent allocation in the Bill were undermined in the consideration and adoption of the disputed PIB.
In the House of Representatives, many lawmakers did not have copies of the Bill. The clauses were announced by the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, for adoption. The All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers were said to have adopted all the clauses except one.
The Deputy Speaker while reading a prepared script was said to have ignored all ‘shouts’ of “point of order” by opposition lawmakers. The APC lawmakers also raised their voices shouting ‘carried’ as their way of adoption.
Again, efforts by Hon Sergius Ogun to draw the attention of the PIB committee chairman, Hon. Tahir Monguno, was also ignored.
Several Niger Delta leaders have demanded comprehensive review of the PIB by the National Assembly, warning that the allocation should not be less than 10 per cent.