[From ANIEKAN ANIEKAN, Calabar]
Former Senate Leader, and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba SAN says stakeholders from the region failed to engage appropriately on the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) of 2021.
Senator Ndoma-Egba who made this known in Calabar during an interview with 92.3 Sparkling FM and monitored by our correspondent, emphasized that the argument as to what percentage should be given to host communities would not arise had the people engaged among themselves.
“Have heard the arguments, some say it should have been three, five or 10 percent may be.
“I am saying that if the host communities actually wanted a figure higher than three percent, there should have been some stakeholders’ engagement prior to the passage of the bill between stakeholders of the region and their legislators in the national Assembly.
‘If the stakeholders are dissatisfied with the three percent that has been provided for in the bill, then it is a clear evidence of the failure of politics in the region.
“For a sensitive issue like that there usually ought to have been a high level stakeholders engagement were the governors, the National Assembly members, the traditional rulers, the major players in the region, the experts from that region on how to proceed.
“I saw no evidence of that kind of engagement, so it is just the question of the failure of politics.
“The people of the region are crying after spilled milk. Steps ought have been taken long before now to engage one another to ensure that their interest were protected but I did not see such engagement”, the Cross River APC chieftain
He said the national assembly members should not be made a scape goat but all leaders in the region should share the blame.
“You can’t just make scapegoat of the National Assembly, every leader of the region should share of the blame.
“In an example during my stay in the senate when the NDDC bill was passed, the then president Olusegun Obasanjo withheld his assent to the bill but the National Assembly overrode the president and passed it into law.
“That could happen because the lawmakers engaged stakeholders from every part of the country and that is how politics is played.
“The governors then were involved but I did not see that kind of serious engagement by stakeholders of the region this time around”, he posited.
He said it is his wish for the host communities got more but from what he knows of the region, it is not just having enough but the mechanism for the transparency and accountability of whatever we get.
On the challenges in the region, Senator Ndoma-Egba said, “without a master plan for the region , without serious stakeholders commitment to the implementation of a predetermined master plan for the region ,you will just be getting more money to fritter away .
“So for me at this point in time it will make more sense to me if we have a mechanism to ensure that the three percent that has been provided for is transparently and judiciously used to develop the region and that is what has been lacking in the region”, he said.