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Host Community Tranche Of PIB Scales Second Reading …Senate Adjourns To Sept 19

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A Bill for an Act to provide a framework relating to petroleum producing host community’s participation, cost and benefit sharing among government, petroleum exploration companies and petroleum host communities, has passed second reading at the Senate.
The bill, which passed second reading following an unanimous adoption by the lawmakers through a voice vote at plenary, yesterday, was sponsored by Sen. Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara-APC) and members of the Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources.
The bill, which is one of the tranches of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), scaled first reading on December 8, 2016.
Leading debate on the bill, Marafa said the bill was structured to bring direct funding for the development of host communities.
He said the bill recognised the pitfalls of past efforts and is structured to bring direct funding for the development of the petroleum host communities under the direction and control of the communities themselves.
According to him, when enacted into law the bill will create the much desired harmony and partnership among various stakeholders in the petroleum operation process.
He added that it would engender huge cost savings, extensive investment and overall transformations of the Nigeria oil and gas industry.
The lawmaker further said that the passage of the bill would help in curbing restiveness, by assuaging the fears of petroleum host communities and providing a veritable regime of compensation directly to the communities.
He noted that it would enable the host communities develop their local infrastructure, educate their people, access health care and earn a livelihood.
He added that the development would enable them cope with the devastated environment foisted on them by the poorly managed petroleum producing activities of the oil companies.
Marafa pointed out that the bill sought to establish a pool of funding for development of petroleum host communities and specifies the sources of this funding.
He maintained that the pool would be funded through a direct contribution from petroleum producing companies.
The senator also said that the bill defined petroleum host communities that would be beneficiaries of the fund.
According to him, the bill also provides reciprocal responsibilities on the part of communities by creating grounds for deductions for repair of any damaged oil facilities resulting from sabotage.
“The bill also sets out the requirements for account and audit of fund paid to petroleum host communities,
“Agitation for participation for host community in petroleum business and the conferment of financial and other benefits of the industry on such communities is as old as the petroleum industry in Nigeria.
“In fact this has been a critical issue of deliberation at several national forums and even here in the National Assembly.
“Over the years government has attempted to address this issue by providing forms of palliatives to the host communities but this has always fallen short of the expectations of the people in the manner in which it was conceived.
“This bill is presented in line with the perspective of this 8th Senate to split the PIB into smaller partitions to allow for easier consideration and where necessary further amendments,’’ he said.
He said the financial implications of the bill would result from the registration of Petroleum Host Communities Associations and National Committee on Petroleum Host Communities.
He said cost of registration of Petroleum Host Communities Associations would be borne by relevant communities.
He added that the running cost of National Committee on Petroleum Host Communities would be deducted from funds payable to petroleum host communities by petroleum producing companies.
“No funds are needed to be appropriated by the National Assembly for funding Host Communities Associations and National Committee on Petroleum Host Communities.’’
The lawmaker noted that the bill would provide the requisite succour to host communities that had borne the brunt of oil production activities, ensure peaceful co-existence and substantial investment to the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Contributing, Sen. James Manager (PDP-Delta), said the 8th Senate had made history for the level of achievement with regard to the ensuring the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill that had lingered for long.
He commended the sponsor of the bill for an extensive job that would be of benefit to all stakeholders in the industry, particularly the host communities.
According to him, “when passed into law, petroleum host communities will heave a sigh of relief.’’
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, referred the bill to the Joint Committee on Upstream, Downstream and Gas for further legislative action after putting it to a voice vote.
The joint committee was mandated to report back in four weeks.
Similarly, the Senate, yesterday, passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NSIA) Bill as a central body in Nigeria responsible for receiving, requesting, analysing and disseminating financial intelligence reports and other information to law enforcement agencies.
This followed the consideration of the report of the Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes presented to the Senate by its chairman, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi during plenary.
The Bill, which was only read for the first time, penultimate Thursday, passed second reading last Tuesday and was approved by the upper legislative chamber on Thursday, exactly one week after.
With the passage of the Bill, the risk of Nigeria being expelled from the Egmont Group has been reduced by half as the bill is just waiting for presidential assent to become law.
The Egmont Group is a network of national financial intelligence units and the highest inter-governmental association of intelligence agencies in the world, with 154 member countries including Britain and the U.S.
Nigeria is currently serving a suspension from the group arising from the non-establishment of the NFIA as a unit standing autonomously.
The group accused the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu of interfering with the affairs of the unit and sharing information that should be confidential to the unit with others including the media.
The group had also threatened to expel Nigeria permanently by January 2018 if the Nigerian government failed to grant the unit the autonomy it required to be a member of the EGMONT group.
It is in a bid to save Nigeria from being expelled that the Senate gave accelerated passage to the Bill without conducting a Public Hearing.
It would be recalled that the NFIA, if given the Presidential assent, would act as the central body in Nigeria responsible for requesting, receiving, analysing and disseminating financial information to law enforcement agencies.
Speaking further on the Bill, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, said the proposal sought to make the unit, which is currently domiciled under the EFCC an autonomous and independent body.
He said that the unit was the backbone of the EFCC but had to be made autonomous as pre-requisite of being a full member of the Egmont Group.
Under the passed Bill, the NFIA would now be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and also report to the National Assembly.
The unit, which represents Nigeria at the global body, is charged with tackling money laundering and monitoring financial flows, a task made easy by its membership of the EGMONT Group.
In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, thanked all the senators for ensuring they expedited the process leading to the passage of “this very important bill.
“We believe that this is a major contribution in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and believe the international community will take us more seriously for taking the step today.
“I hope that Egmont Group will also take the decision to lift the suspension on Nigeria because of this step we have taken today.
“The fact of relocating the agency under the CBN will give other agencies sufficient access to the job of this agency in such a way that there will be no control of the NFIU that will not lead Nigeria to another round of suspension.”
He said that the Senate had taken the right step especially when it considered that they had was in consonant with what was done in other countries of the world where they had similar agencies.
Meanwhile, the Senate adjourned sitting to September 19 after deliberations on the two bills.
However, as the 8th Senate winds its second session, the upper chamber has approved amendments of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to clear certain ambiguities in the extant law.
The Senate also condemned, “non-transparent process” being adopted by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in concessioning of the Port Harcourt Refinery to ENI/AGIP and OANDO.
The lawmakers, therefore, resolved that every the process of the deal henceforth be stopped while advertisement and open bidding for transparency should be adopted for every maintenance of the refinery.
In the new amendment to the NDDC Act, “an indigene of an oil producing area” to  be appointed into the NDDC Governing Board has been clarified to read “an indigene of an oil producing local government area”.
Three PIB related bills, Bill for an Act to Establish a Fiscal Framework, A Bill for an Act to provide for Administrative Framework for the Petroleum Industry and the Host Community Bill passed second reading in the Senate chambers.
The host communities’ bill, provides for Petroleum Host Community Associations (PHCA) “to be funded through a direct contribution from petroleum producing companies”.
The Bill also provides for National Committee on Petroleum Host (NCPHC) Communities designed solely to be “a small advisory body which provides support to the Petroleum Host Community Associations when required”.
According to the provisions of the bill, the cost of Registration of the PHCA will be borne by relevant communities, while the running cost of the NCPHC will be deducted from the funds payable to the communities.
The bills would be subjected to Public Hearings before final passage by the National Assembly when Senate resumes plenary Sitting (after annual recess) on September 19, 2017.

Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity

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Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.

The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).

Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.

It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.

Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.

Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.

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Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments

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President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.

The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.

According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.

He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.

Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.

The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.

He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.

On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.

He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.

“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.

“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.

“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.

”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.

“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.

“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.

On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.

On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.

According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.

The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”

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Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari

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Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.

The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.

Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.

He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.

He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.

“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.

“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.

“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”

He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.

This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.

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