Seriake Dickson

The Senator representing Bayelsa West, Senator Seriake Dickson addressed the media within the Senate on two contentious points bothering on the passage of the three% fairness shareholding for host communities, which he stated they disagreed with, and the contentious clause 52(3) within the 2021 Electoral Act Modification invoice that was lately handed by the Nationwide Meeting.

He known as for a overview of the three% fairness upwards to the 5% proposed by the joint committee on petroleum earlier than Buhari assents to it as it might set off one other spherical of insecurity within the Niger Delta. He additionally cautioned the Nationwide Meeting over the usurpation of INEC powers on electoral outcomes transmission. JOHN AKUBO was there.

On the Petroleum Business Invoice (PIB) the late President Umaru Yar’Adua despatched the primary Petroleum Business Invoice (PIB) to the Nationwide Meeting. The PIB work began from President Olusegun Obasanjo’s time; that was when the thought was muted.

Throughout Yar’Adua’s time, Rilwanu Lukman was the Minister of Petroleum Assets, and the invoice proposed 10% for host communities and likewise proposed 10% for frontier growth. Sadly, it couldn’t be handed on the time. We’re glad the individuals are glad that the Nationwide Meeting has been in a position to break that jinx or no matter appears to be like prefer it. However we should get the PIB proper.

As , I disagreed fully and most of us disagreed with the three% fairness for the host communities that was finally handed.

In fact, the historical past, the Senate handed 3% fairness and the Home 5% and so they went for a convention, which got here up with 3%. However my view is that this nation is just not serving to itself, it isn’t serving to traders and it isn’t serving to host communities by not creating the enabling setting to permit funding to thrive.

The argument that approving something greater than 3% will deter traders is just not real. If the host communities aren’t glad, would traders come? In the event that they don’t have a stake in exploration and exploitation actions, as soon as traders discover that the state of affairs is just not conducive they are going to take off. So, this isn’t a clever choice as a result of you aren’t coping with just one group, however 1000’s and, lots of of communities.

Don’t neglect that, even the transit communities have a stake. I do know that individuals are arguing about why pipeline communities ought to be a part of it however there may be sense in that. In the event you exclude the pipeline communities, they will sabotage the whole administration of the operations. So, it’s a query of proportion, it’s a query of correct discretion on the degree of administration of this host communities’ fund.

A variety of pondering and ability need to be deployed within the precise administration of the Host Communities’ fund. The world is aware of; these host communities know that in the beginning of this invoice, what was proposed for them was 10%. But, nobody is partaking them, nobody is explaining something to them. All they’ve seen is that individuals who say they’ve majority votes have imposed a 3% fairness on them and they’re offended. That’s the reason I’m of the view that this 3% handed by the Nationwide Meeting is just not useful to the Host Communities, the oil corporations, and the nation. If we need to entice funding, then we should all work hand-in-hand with the Host Communities, get their buy-in, get their understanding and assist and first create an enabling setting for funding to thrive. It’s not too late to make a brand new day. There may be nonetheless room for a overview as a way to have the buy-in of the oil-producing communities.

I additionally made a case that there’s nothing mistaken in appropriating cash, giving cash for the event of the Frontier basins. However ought to it’s as much as 30%? Frontier basins are a number of within the nation. I do know that it serves all people’s curiosity; it serves the nationwide curiosity in exploring extra basins. There may be the Gongola basin, the Benue space, the Sokoto basin, the Dahomey, Ogun, Anambra, and so forth. No person is towards that. However when oil-producing communities are taking 3%, NNPC funds of 30% revenue is being allotted to exploration and so they have been denied even 5%, not even 10%. It’s not a really useful state of affairs for the oil trade. You all understand how we felt. I needed to stage a walkout as a result of that was the correct factor to do. We didn’t need our names to be related to that sort of exercise. Some had been asking me why the walkout? Why not? That could be a regular parliamentary observe. If you disagree, you make a degree.

Electoral Act Modification Invoice 2021
THE second one has to do with the Electoral Act modification invoice and you’ve got seen the backlash. First, as a member of the committee, the members did job in presenting that draft which ought to have taken care of all of the controversies now being raised. That draft would have enabled INEC to transmit electronically the place and when practicable; they felt the expertise obtainable would make it attainable for that to be completed. It took care of all of the considerations and a few of the members of the complaints raised even on the degree of the committee. We pushed them by and everybody agreed.

Now, you possibly can see the assaults on the Nationwide Meeting, the assaults on the senate particularly. What I need to say is that there’s a marked distinction between what we handed within the Senate and what the Home handed. If this is so, then there may be prone to be a convention committee on it. Whereas casting my vote for digital transmission of outcomes, I made it very clear that it’s unconstitutional for the Nationwide Meeting to subordinate the independence of and operational powers and discretion conferred by the structure on INEC. You’ll be able to’t subordinate INEC to another physique. It’s not constitutional. If that finally ends up because the place of each chambers, you might be very certain what the possible choices of the courts can be. Because of this you’ve gotten the Govt and the judiciary. Legal guidelines which might be handed which might be inconsistent with the structure can be challenged. Like, I stated on the ground, it’s unconstitutional to topic the operational independence of INEC to a different company.

Nonetheless, there may be room for additional legislative work; Nigerians mustn’t lose hope. It’s gratifying to see that Nigerians love democracy and are enthusiastic about voting and having their votes depend. I imagine that the Nationwide Meeting exists to make that attainable, to not hinder it. 

How do you are feeling that Yar’Adua introduced a ten% proposal for host communities at a time the Petroleum Minister, the late Rilwanu Lukman was from the north. Now, how do you are feeling that along with your predecessor, Timipre Sylva as Minister of Petroleum, a 2.5% is being proposed?
In fact, we felt unhealthy that was why I voted towards it. This isn’t the primary time Buhari is presenting this invoice. President Buhari’s first proposal was 5%. That’s the reason I stated that this matter has been so badly mismanaged. With higher advise and strategic pondering, they need to have saved it at that 5% and talk about it with the oil corporations.

For instance, the oil corporations nonetheless perform Company Social Duty (CSR) actions. So, you possibly can have interaction them and ask what’s the price of their CSR and construct it into this, in any case the share is a part of the working price. In the event you take away the CSR, hospitals, faculties, a few of them aren’t even usable however they award contracts, which gulp some huge cash. Issue all of that into the Host Communities’ fund, as a result of the fund is for the event of the host communities, you will note that you’ll even get greater than 5%. 

That’s the reason I stated on the government degree this invoice has been strategically mismanaged with respect to the administration of the Host Communities as a result of it should increase safety investments. The Nigerian safety forces will want cash to work and all of those are extra prices you aren’t factoring in.

In the meantime, when you say 5%, and the oil-producing communities are on the identical web page with you, you’ve gotten a secured steady setting. This invoice has a clause that if there may be any harm to any facility that isn’t pure, that the fund can be utilised in fixing it. The concept of this fund is to additionally give the host communities chargeable for the soundness and security of amenities. So, the host communities are an important companions. Now the hazard is that due to this strategic mismanagement, the Host Communities at the moment are being alienated. Bear in mind that you’re coping with banditry that has not been conquered, and kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency. But, you need to open one other chapter in over eight states or extra, in communities the place nearly all of our folks reside; most of them are in distant communities which have little or no Federal Authorities presence. I believe that the host communities and the folks ought to have been positioned because the primary companions for stability and for the event of the oil-producing areas as a way to assure sustainability on this crucial trade with out which the nationwide economic system will collapse. Because of this I disagreed with the strategic mismanagement. So, direct your inquiries to the Petroleum Minister and the GMD NNPC; they are going to reply why President Yar’Adua proposed 10%, why President Buhari proposed 5% earlier, and why the minister who’s from Bayelsa got here to the Nationwide Meeting to current 2.5%.

The chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, voted towards your report on the electoral act modification invoice. How do you are feeling about that?
He’s my good good friend with whom I disagree fully on this. However you must direct your query to him and I may also be eager about listening to his reply. How the chairman of our committee who agreed with us on the committee degree, voted towards our collective choice? I moved this clause, framing it to accommodate the considerations of some members who doubted connectivity of their communities. That’s the reason you see the distinction between what we introduced and that within the Home due to these considerations, which had been usually the identical concern they sighted. We stated the place and when practicable and all people agreed, and I assumed that we had addressed that concern. The underlying motive is that you simply can’t take away the skilled judgment and discretion of INEC. We’re not technical folks and that’s the reason you see conflicting stories from NCC and so forth and so forth. The company that we must always belief and depend on as to whether or not they can conduct or transmit outcomes electronically is INEC. Allow us to not fetter that discretion. That’s the reason it was phrased that means.

As a former Home of Consultant member, former Governor, and now a Senator, would you say the legislature is oppressive?
Don’t solid aspersions on the legislature. I’m not right here to say that the Senate and the Nationwide Meeting ought to be solid in the best way and method that you’re doing. We will disagree with the laws, which is what we’re doing however that characterisation is just too broad. As an example, it’s the Senate that raised it from the two.5% the chief introduced. It’s now 3%. All we’re saying is that it isn’t sufficient. In nation-building, notably in an enormous and numerous nation, counting on would possibly and the bulk doesn’t construct a nation. The vast majority of votes, power, numbers on their very own don’t construct a rustic. What builds a nation in a various society like ours is the presence of justice, equity, consideration for the opposite, a nation that protects the weak from the sturdy; a nation that additionally exists for the few in addition to the numerous. That’s the perspective that ought to inform all political leaders and actors. As a matter of truth, mere reliance on uncooked numbers with out equity, fairness and justice, and consensus-building are inimical to nation-building.

Will you provide you with an modification if President Buhari assents to three%?
What’s going to occur if the President assents to this invoice, which we disagreed with? We predict that there ought to be a overview; there shouldn’t even be assent to it. They need to ship it for extra consultative and lucid work in order that whereas making an attempt to unravel issues you don’t create extra issues.

As a stakeholder from the Niger Delta, are you saying peace within the area wouldn’t be assured with the three%?
As for guaranteeing safety, aside from God, the President is the repository of all safety powers. The president is to find out and assure stability and security. Nonetheless, if he has not completed so within the North East for 10 years, you aren’t doing so for Northwest for about 4 years, and within the Southeast and within the Southwest, I believe it’s towards the nationwide curiosity to open one other frontier of battle.

The Niger Delta is the one area having fun with relative stability due to the insurance policies that late President Yar’Adua initiated. He didn’t solely proposed 10% fairness for Host Communities but in addition granted amnesty, which remains to be working and we’re all in assist of it. He created the Ministry of Niger Delta. That’s the way you construct a rustic, stepping in, standing for the weak and the few, and never counting on numbers and energy.

How united had been the lawmakers from the South-South, what resolutions did they make earlier than the PIB consideration?
Let me right you; Senator Sekibo and I had been mandated by the Southern Senators Discussion board and the South-South Discussion board to achieve out to all key opinion leaders and we did. We spoke to most of them and so they all supported our 5%. Individuals might not know the sort of consensus-building a few of us have been doing as a result of, for me, that’s our model of politics. Disagreements are regular and bonafide however you attain throughout the divides and search a standard place and we did quite a lot of that. All of them assured us they had been going to assist 5%. Thoughts you the chief proposal was 2.5%. So the two.5 % didn’t come from Senate, it was what the chief introduced and got here right here to defend within the public hearings and even earlier than we voted.

The Senate report additionally had 2.5% however due to these consultations, the Senate Committee graciously went again, did its work, and introduced 5%. That’s what folks might not know and Senator Sekibo, Ajibola Basiru, Chua Utazi and I had been on that committee. I conferred with them, together with the Senate President.

Now, what occurred was that earlier than we took that deliberation and votes, the Minister of Petroleum and the GMD of NNPC had been invited to provide us the chief perspective. I don’t know why it was completed, it was not parliamentary however that was the choice of the management. They got here supposedly to enlighten us on the technical facet of the invoice. The principle message they got here to ship was both 2.5% fairness for Host Communities or no funding. So, I can really feel how most members who had given us their dedication felt once they heard that powerful place by the chief, saying something greater than 2.5% will imply no funding influx. I believe that last-minute intervention was what accounted for the change of coronary heart.

Earlier, you stated there ought to be a overview of the invoice earlier than Presidential assent. As a consultant of the folks, what’s your subsequent line of motion on this 3%?
What we’re doing can also be the subsequent line of motion. It’s a story that has simply began, that’s nonetheless unfolding and everybody has a job, together with the media, to proceed to make the case for equity and fairness on the a part of all. If the parliamentary work at this stage is concluded, I imagine we’re speaking to the folks within the government arm and I imagine that even the NNPC and the oil directors of the petroleum sector are keenly following the event within the nation and notably within the Niger Delta. I nonetheless suppose it isn’t too late to make a brand new day, to do what must be completed.

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