By Haruna Salami
Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has appealed to members of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) to halt their planned attacks on oil facilities in the region.
According to him, going ahead with their threat would create economic setback for the country and additional environmental degradation in the area.
Senator Omo-Agege’s appeal came on the heels of recent threats by a coalition of nine militant groups in the Niger-Delta region expressing readiness to resume hostilities by attacking oil and gas facilities if Federal Government did not meet the demands of #EndSARS protesters across the country.
The militant groups under the aegis of the RNDA, also announced their preparedness to renege on the ceasefire accord with the Federal Government and engage military forces.
Specifically, they threatened to resume attacks on some identified oil facilities in the region if nothing was done to redress the issues of poor welfare, armed oppression and inequality in the standard of living between the citizens and political elite.
But speaking when he hosted a delegation of Oil and Gas Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSCON) in Abuja, led by elder statesman, Chief Wellington Okrika, the Delta Central lawmaker urged the agitators to sheathe their sword and allow peace to reign.
The senator stressed that with the nation still battling with the challenges posed by Covid-19 and the aftermath of #EndSARS protests which was hijacked by hoodlums, it cannot afford another militancy problem at the moment.
“Whatever it is, we must maintain peace in the Niger Delta. I say this in view of the new agitations by the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers.
“We are just coming out of the #EndSARS protest which, of course, we all witnessed how a peaceful protest was hijacked by those with sinister agenda. We are all witnesses to what happened afterwards even when we must acknowledge that in a democracy, protest is a right provided those that do it do so peacefully without abridging the rights of others,” Omo-Agege said.
“Take this commendation to our brothers in the Creeks that they have done well in keeping the peace and we will table their request before the authorities as they have channelled that request through me. We shall ensure the right things are done”.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the National Assembly, Omo-Agege argued that the annual contribution of 2.5 per cent actual operating expenditure by oil companies to the Host Community Development Trust Fund would be increased to, at least, 5 per cent.
He also reiterated his call at the Second Reading of the bill on the floor of the Senate where he made a case for gas flaring penalties to be paid to the host communities and not the federation account.
He pointed out that the funds would be used to ameliorate the living conditions in Niger Delta communities, as they remain the ones that bear the burden of environmental degradation from the oil industry.
“Let the Niger Delta Region begin to look like the region that produces the wealth of the country. The Host Community component of the PIB law is of utmost importance to us in the National Assembly and we believe it should be a win-win for all stakeholders.
“I also believe Gas Flaring Penalty cost should come to the Host Communities and I am sure we have impressed it on our colleagues to allow that to stay. That money shouldn’t go to the Federation Account but to the people whose environment are impacted by gas flaring”, he added.
Earlier, Chief Okrika, called on the Deputy Senate President to intervene in the issues brought before the Federal Government concerning the PIB, gas flaring, 13 percent derivation payment to the states instead of the oil bearing communities, the N98bn gas flare fund and the controversy surrounding the Pipeline Surveillance Contract.
Other members of the delegation include Dr Mike Emuh (National Chairman), Mrs. Josephine Odungide (National Women Leader), Princess Christy Ejeh, Anthony Oghenovo, Jonathan Osigho, Joy Richard and Ann Izi.