The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, declared, yesterday, in Abuja, that the demons frustrating the passage and Presidential Assent to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) within the last 14 years, would be defeated this year by the 9th National Assembly.
Lawan, who made the declaration, while speaking to journalists on his 62 birthday celebration, said the patriotic zeal used by the National Assembly in October, 2019, to pass the Amendment Bill on Deep Offshore Oil Production Sharing Contracts, would be deployed for expeditious consideration and passage of the PIB already before it, latest by the end of first quarter of this year.
“PIB is like a demon. People both within and outside the country are ready to work against it as they have been doing for the past 14 years but the 9th Senate, and by extension, 9th National Assembly, will defeat the demon with the current bill before both Chambers.
“The patriotic zeal, sheer determination and unity of purpose by all serving senators across party lines, to do this latest by the end of first quarter of this year will be deployed on the bill immediately the Senate resumes on 26th of this month the way it did with Deep Offshore Oil Production Sharing Contracts”, he said.
The Deep Offshore Oil Production Sharing Contracts Act, facilitated by the National Assembly in 2019, he disclosed, has increased remittances from the sharing contracts into the federation account from $216million to $2billion on yearly basis.
According to him, “For 20 years, foreign forces and local collaborators, frustrated efforts to amend the Deep Offshore Oil Production Contract Act, but got defeated in October, 2019, with passage of Amendment to the Act by both Chambers of the 9th National Assembly with attendant financial and economic gains for the country.
“Those against the move in 2019, even threatened to leave the country, but the 9th National Assembly stood its ground in getting the previously fraudulent Act, amended with passage of the bill, which was assented to, by President Muhammadu Buhari on a Sunday in London.”
He, however, assured the various International Oil Companies (IOCs), working in Nigeria that the PIB to be passed this year, will not run them out of business.
“The main purpose of PIB which will later become an Act, when passed and assented to, by President Muhammadu Buhari, is to make the oil sector investments friendly for both local and foreign investors with attendant economic gains for the country.
“Through it, a required competitive environment will be provided for businesses to grow and investors to make their gains as well as Nigerians getting values for their money and the government getting more revenues,” he explained.
He added that with massive injection of budget funds into the economy, Nigeria will get out of recession in a few months time.
According to him, to achieve that, while implementation of the N13.588trillion 2021 budget commences this January, the capital component of the 2020 budget is extended to March 31, this year as requested by the executive.
“This will no doubt ensure injection of massive funds into the economy and get it out of recess soonest,” he said.
He also declared that the reversion of budget implementation cycle in Nigeria from unpredictable ones of the past to January-December now, by both the legislature and the executive, has increased the percentage of implementation and invariably delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
Lawan argued that Nigeria would generate more revenue with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
He said that the Senate would on resumption from the Christmas break on January 26, consider the bill for passage.
According to him, the PIB is important legislation that would be given the necessary attention to our resumption.
“By the grace of God when we resume, we will start work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB); that is going to be one legislation that not only Nigeria but the entire world is waiting for because that will change our economy.
“Money will start flowing, so, we want you to be on that journey with us so that you too when the history of PIB passage and assent will be written, your names will be reflected.
“We promised Nigerians that we are going to achieve that by the grace of God in the year 2021,’’ the Senate president said.
He, however, said that there were people within and outside the country who were opposed to the passage of the bill.
“There are people both within and outside the country who will work against it but it is going to take the strength of our patriotism to pass it,” Lawan said.
He further said that the PIB would be given the same speed accorded the Deep Offshore Production Sharing Contract bill.
“When in 2019, we said we will pass the amendment to the Deep Offshore Production Sharing Contract in this house, we spent nights.
“We close by 2 a.m., 3 a.m., just working to amend that act; people didn’t want it to happen because it stopped what has been happening for 20 years.
“In a week, they thought it was a joke. In a week we finished the amendment because the house was on recess, the day they returned, they concurred.
“Mr. President knew how important that amendment was. He was in London and that bill was flown to him and he signed on a Sunday just to give that amendment the validity that was needed,” he said.
Lawan added: “We lost billions of naira because we were supposed to be given $2billion every year in the last 20 years; they were giving us $216million.
“But from last year, after the amendment, it is now $2billion.
“That is what we intend to do with the PIB, we will pass the PIB that will ensure that businesses here get a very competitive environment, that people can make a profit and stay and even invest more.
“It is necessary and incumbent on all of us leaders, to apply ourselves fully to address the various challenges facing Nigerians.”
He noted the need for leaders in the country to surmount the challenges, saying that there should be no excuses in finding solutions to the problems.
“It is not easy. And sometimes, when you are outside the system, you think two plus two is four. Until you get in then you will discover it’s beyond that arithmetic, but there should be no excuses,” he said.
Nkanga’s Death Has Left A Void In N’Delta, Wike Laments
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says the untimely death of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) has dealt a severe blow to Niger Delta struggle.
Wike made this assertion when he visited the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom at the Government House, Uyo, yesterday, to commiserate with him over the death of Nkanga and the state Chairman of PDP, Udo Ekpenyong.
The Rivers State governor said the death of the PANDEF chairman has created a deep void in the agitation for restructuring of Nigeria in line with the principle of true federalism.
“The PANDEF chairman stood for the struggle of the Niger Delta, restructuring of this country. As Rivers people, we are all from Niger Delta. We face the same problems. So, if anything happens to Akwa Ibom State, it also affects Rivers State. We have lost a voice. Whether anybody likes it or not. We have lost a voice.”
Wike, who described the death of both the PANDEF and PDP chairmen as painful, urged Udom and the people of Akwa Ibom State to take solace in God over the death of these two great sons of the state.
In appreciation of the immense contribution of the late PANDEF chairman to the Niger Delta struggle, Wike said Rivers State Government will collaborate with Akwa Ibom State Government to support his family and accord him a befitting funeral.
“My brother, we will support you to sustain the family. We will support you for the burial of the late PANDEF chairman. Rivers State Government will want to be fully involved in whatever it takes to give him a befitting burial.”
Wike, also lamented the abrupt death of Ekpenyong who was just recently elected chairman of the party in the state.
In his response, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, thanked Wike and Rivers State delegation for standing by the people of Akwa Ibom in their moment of grief.
Udom said the death of Nkanga, who was the Director General of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Divine Mandate Campaign organisation 2015 and 2019, was emotionally devastating to him and the people of the state.
“He was my DG for both first term and second term. For somebody who had been your director general for first and second term, you know the man must have proven that high level of loyalty and integrity.
“What he doesn’t say in front of you, he will never say it behind you. He was that man at that level of integrity, character.”
He urged the governors of the South-South states to collaborate with the Akwa Ibom Government to give Nkanga a befitting funeral next month.
Udom, who described death as a mystery that only God understands, said he was saddened about the death of his state party chairman, who according to him epitomizes loyalty.
“In fact, my party chairman when they are introducing him, they use to call him Mr Loyalty. He was that loyal to our party. He had served the party at the national level; he started serving the party at the state level. If you want any definition for loyalty, just look for Udo Ekpenyong.”
NSCDC Uncovers 119 Gallons Of Adulterated AGO In Rivers
The Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Rivers State, Commandant Muktar Lawal says the command has uncovered an illegal dump of 119 25-liter gallons of adulterated AGO, and arrested one suspect, saying that the Special Anti-Vandal Team which specialised in identifying illegal dumps in the state, was responsible for the discovery and arrest.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the command, Assistant Commandant Oguntuase Michael, and made available to The Tide said that at about 1500hrs on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, the anti-vandal team arrested a suspect, one Mr. Ezike Shoke, with a Volkswagen Jetta car loaded with suspected illegally-refined AGO, in gallons (25liters), 56 in number at an illegal dump situated at number 34 Arochukwu Street, Rumumasi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
According to the statement, the illegal dump where the suspected products were seized was situated at a residential area making it unacceptable and dangerous for residents of the area due to the adverse health effects it poses to the people.
The statement also said that 57 empty gallons found at the crime scene were seized while investigation is ongoing to arrest all the fleeing gang members who are connected to the dastardly act.
He said that when they are arrested, they would be charged to court.
RSG Orders Civil Servants To Stay-At-Home
The Rivers State Government has directed civil servants on salary grade levels 01 to 13 to stay-at-home to check the spread of a spike in the second wave of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.
The state government’s position was made clear in a statement signed by the state Head of Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The statement, copied to the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, all honourable commissioners, all chairmen of commissions, all permanent secretaries, the accountant general, the auditors-general of state and local government, the surveyor-general, all special advisers and senior special assistants, all heads of non-ministerial and extra-ministerial departments, the clerk, Rivers State House of Assembly, and the Rivers State Liaison officers, Lagos and Abuja, with reference number: A.779/Vol.11/156, and dated January 19, 2021, was titled, “Stay-At-Home Directive for Officers on Salary Grade Levels 01 – 13 due to Covid-19 Pandemic Second Wave”.
The statement reads, “Following the current hike in the incidence of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the second wave of the virus, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has directed all civil servants on salary grade levels 01 -13, except those on indispensable essential duties to stay away from duty forthwith, while officers from grade levels 14 and above should be on duty, and assume full responsibilities for their offices until further notice.
“Accordingly, all permanent secretaries, and heads of extra-ministerial officers should ensure compliance with this directive within the strict context of the Covid-19 Protocols. This directive, which takes effect from Wednesday, January 20, 2021, shall remain in force until His Excellency, directs otherwise, please.”
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
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