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PIGB Rejection: President Buhari Acted Rightly —Group

The recent refusal of the President, Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, has been described as a right step in the right direction.

The Head of the National Advocacy Centre of Social Action and Director of Programmes, Ms Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, made this assertion while reacting to the rejection of the bill by President Buhari.

According to Bellonwu-Okafor, teeming Civil Society Organizations and Community Groups including Social Action, had earlier raised alarm on the gaping holes and major shortcomings in the bill and the potential danger these held for the environment, the lives and livelihoods of Oil – bearing (host) communities’ residents as well as the Industry itself.

She stated: “…as we speak, presently, the entire atmosphere of a State in the Niger Delta, Rivers State, is enveloped in a black deadly soot, masking every object or item in that place and stealthily decimating the lives of the millions  of people living there and inhaling the pollution of which experts have attributed to combustion of fossil fuel, Petroleum.

It is therefore appalling that the National Assembly, against all well-meaning pleas to bring back the comprehensive Petroleum Industry Bill, the PIB, and jettison the piece-meal PIGB, which did not even make any pretense to care about or recognize the lives cum rights of host communities or the environment and at best simply authored confusion and double-standards in establishing petroleum regulatory institutions for the Industry; went ahead and passed it.

Bellonwu-Okafor pointed out that Social Action has therefore lauded the President for his foresightedness in taking step to forestall what would have been a major setback to both the people and the environment of the oil-bearing region adding that any bill for the industry must recognize the environment and lives/rights of the host area(s) as fundamental and therefore legislate on it firstly before commercial entities and interests.

The Advocacy chief therefore called on the National Assembly to do what she said was “the needful and rightful”, by bringing back and passing the comprehensive PIB in the interest of equity, justice and the environment.

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