Bishop Simeon Okah, the immediate past National Vice Chairman (South-South) of PFN, has criticized the 3 and 5 percent approved by the National Assembly as Host Communities Development Trust Fund in the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Bishop Simeon Okah, reacting to the passage of the Petroleum Industry during a press conference on Monday in Enerhen near Warri, said the people of the oil-rich region would not accept the three and five per cent approved by lawmakers of both chambers.
Both chambers of the National Assembly – Senate and House of Representatives – had separately approved 3 and 5 percent as host communities fund before eventual passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill last week.
He said the least percentage that should have been approved by the lawmaker would have been ten per cent in the interest of fairness, justice and unity of the country.
The outspoke cleric specifically cautioned the Nigerian lawmakers to stop treating the people of the region as ‘beggars’ despite generating revenues the country currently survives on.
Although, he commended the lawmakers for the passage of the bill, he noted that the people of the region were angry with certain sections of the passed PIB.
Bishop Simeon Okah, who is the founder and presiding bishop of Flock of Christ Mission in Delta State, stated, “I congratulate them for doing a good job with the passage of the bill. I say a good job because the Petroleum Industry Bill has been around for a long time.
“However, something that’s very bad which the whole South-South is unhappy about is the three and five per cent which both chambers separately approved. Three per cent is nothing. If it was about 10/15 per cent fine.
“They should not treat the people of the South-South as if we are begging them for something. It’s the money from the South-South that is running whole economy (at least 80 per cent). So, it’s very unfair and unjust. At least, it should be 10 per cent but for me personally, it should be 15 per cent.”
Speaking on the recent threat by some militant groups including the Niger Delta Avengers to resume hostilities in the region, the cleric called for peace and pleaded with the militants not to carry out any planned attack in the region.
Bishop Simeon Okah called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to speed up development of the region and meet other genuine demands by the agitators as well as the immediate inauguration of a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“I have pleaded with the boys not to resume hostilities. I’m saying it from the depth of my heart, the APC government has been very unfair to the South-South where the oil is being drilled. We’re the ones who begged the militants not to do that right now because it won’t help the economy.
“So, it’s up to all those who surround the President to advise him that if the NDDC change is made now is better. He should not ignore them (militants). The boys are ready. He should not take these boys for granted if not we’ll regret it”, Bishop Simeon Okah added.
Okah lamented the increasing insecurity in the country and urged the Federal Government to be proactive in addressing the various security challenges across the country.
On the rearrest of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, the PFN leader noted that, “The rearrest is not my problem. Anybody who has done anything that’s against the progress of the country, the Federal Government has the right to try such person (s).
“Two things I have to say. First, they should give him fair hearing so that the trial will not be done in a way that everyone (especially the Igbos) will see it as an oppression.
“Secondly, as we talk about the IPOB, what about the boys (bandits and herdsmen) organizing killings in the North and in the whole country? What of Sheikh Gumi? He has become somebody no one can touch. That’s very unfair.
“We all thought President Buhari being a former military general he will do better. Buhari should declare Gumi wanted if he doesn’t support him. He (Gumi) should be tried in the eyes of the whole world. The eyes of the whole world are on us. I’m worried. I am badly disturbed as a man of God over the current challenges.”