Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson has underscored the need for the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to be structured to meet the expectations of the people of oil producing states by addressing their developmental challenges.
Governor Dickson made the call, on Friday in a live interview programme, Sunrise Daily on Channels Television.
Responding to a question on his perspective on the bill, the Governor said it was imperative for the PIB to encourage investment and the problems of host communities given the challenges being experienced in the course of oil exploration and exploitation activities in oil-bearing states.
Referring to Oloibiri, the area in Bayelsa where crude oil was first struck in commercial quantities in 1956 as a metaphor of neglect, Governor Dickson said the development informed his administration’s decision to diversify the monolithic economy of the state.
In his words, “For me as a Governor and a Nigerian from Bayelsa in the Niger Delta area, who feels the pains of producing the oil resources, PIB is a necessity. For example, Oloibiri that started oil production is now a metaphor of neglect. Oloibiri reminds you of the need to expand the base of our economy beyond oil and gas, and prepare our various states and entire country of life without oil which is what the new Bayelsa is talking about”
He however commended the National Assembly for its efforts on the PIB which has passed its second reading on the floor of the House, expressing the hope that stakeholders would work with them to ensure that the final draft meets the requirements of the country.
“The PIB has to be structured in such a way that will meet the expectations of these areas and the country as a whole. PIB should bring up a structure that will encourage investment and address the problems of oil-bearing communities.”
On the appropriate oil derivation principle for oil producing states, Governor Dickson advocated true fiscal federalism where the federating units would possess total ownership of resources produced in their areas and pay appropriate taxes to the central government.
“I will say that derivation itself within the context of a capitalist federal system is theoretically wrong and ideologically indefensible and that is why the PIB needs to talk about resource control because you cannot take away a people’s resources as the only element you nationalize while other factors of production are capitalized.
So a more consistent philosophy will be that you allow producing states and those who own resources to have title to it and then the federation retains the right to levy appropriate taxes.”
Also reacting to questions on the activities of the Nigerian Governors Forum and the PDP Governors’ Forum, Governor Dickson noted that the creation of the PDP Governors’ Forum was a party affair, which was long overdue.
Commenting on the emerging opposition party, All Progressive Congress (APC), the governor who said he was not averse to a formidable opposition, as it would strengthen the fledgling democracy in the country, however urged them not to heat up the polity unnecessarily but operate within the ambit of the law.