Petroleum Industry Bill: Bayelsa Govt Seeks Closer Working Relationship With Founding Fathers
…Urge Them To Be Vocal On Restructuring, Urban Renewal
Bayelsa State Government has called on its founding fathers and elders to be more vociferous in their support of the struggle for restructuring of the country and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Governor Douye Diri, who made the call on Monday during the quarterly meeting of the Bayelsa Elders Council, also urged them to support his administration’s ongoing urban renewal program to give Yenagoa, the state capital, a befitting look.
Declaring the meeting open at the Niger Delta Wetlands Centre in Yenagoa, the Governor restated the state government’s preparedness to identify with any worthy cause aimed at addressing the injustice and imbalances in the body politic of Nigeria.
Represented by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, he attributed the unrelenting agitations for secession by some ethnic nationalities to the absence of justice, fairness, and equity in the country.
While advising the elders to be courageous and united at all times, Senator Diri, urged them to expand their lobbying across ethnic lines to advance the cause for equitable representation in all federal agencies and institutions.
He expressed hope that the passage and eventual implementation of the Petroleum Industry Bill would go a long way in addressing the issue of shortchanging host communities in the sharing of oil and gas proceeds mainly generated from the Niger Delta.
His words, “When we talk about the issue of restructuring, we will need the elders to make it more effective. So, we enjoin you individually and collectively to take advantage of your outreach spread beyond Bayelsa to help us in the struggle.
“Our doors are open for your useful suggestions and advice. If there are urgent issues of interest to the Ijaw Nation, and particularly Bayelsa, please don’t hesitate to knock on our doors.
“On the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, we believe that, in no distant time, when the current industrial action by the Parliamentary Workers Union is over, the bill will be passed.
“The state has made a direct presentation and we believe that what we have proposed is quite representative enough of our interest, aspirations, and desires.
“We believe that if the bill is passed, our situation will not be the same again and there will be an improvement from what we are getting now. We also believe that our elders can do the necessary lobbying while we do our own.”
On his Urban Renewal Programme, Governor Diri urged the residents of Yenagoa who have illegal structures erected on the government’s land and the right of way to remove them or risk forceful demolition with its attendant consequences.
According to him, the dream of the Prosperity Administration is to upgrade the state capital from its current status to one that will give Bayelsans a sense of pride and joy shortly.
While calling on the elders to support the government’s policies and projects constructively, Senator Diri promised to carry them along in the scheme of things especially in the area of welfare.
Speaking earlier, the Acting Chairman of the Bayelsa Elders Council, Chief Thompson Okorotie, expressed the group’s support for the restructuring of the country, describing it as a survival valve of the nation which is currently on the precipice.
Chief Okorotie, who also decried the worsening security situation in the country, said it was unfortunate that the South-South region, unlike the other major ethnic nationalities, had yet to come out with its security outfit.
The elder statesman, however, appealed to critical stakeholders to close ranks and rise above the multi-lingual challenge facing them and fashion out an effective security architecture for the region.
A minute silence was observed for the former Chairman, Chief Francis Doukpola, Professor Kimse Okoko, Chief A. A. Tariebi, and other departed members of the Bayelsa Elders Council.