By Magnus Effiong
A South South group, the Mangrove People Leadership Initiative (MAPLI) has again restated its avowed rejection of 3 percent allocated to oil producing host communities as trust fund in the Petroleum Industry Bill, which was signed into law on August 16, 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is coming few months after its popular Yenegoa Declaration in which it rejected “the allocation of a 30 percent NNPC limited oil and gas profit as in the production sharing and risk services contracts to fund oil exploration of frontier basins, the 3 percent OPEX allocation for a trust fund for host communities.”
Rising from a stakeholders forum in Calabar, the group, which described itself as non-govermental, non-profit oriented and non-violent, charged the new administration to review the PIA and “correct the wrongs done to the people of the South South.”
Speaking, the President General of the group, Chief Dick K Harry, said “Our people, who have been marginalized for many years despite being the hen that lays the golden eggs, deserve to have their fair share of the resources that come from their lands and waters.
“Few months ago, we made a declaration in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State, on issues concerning the South South and Nigeria, and one of the things we declared was our stand on open grazing. We thank God that various Governors in our region agreed with us and came up with anti-open grazing bill. We are still waiting for the few who are yet to key into this position.
“We also took a position against the three percent allocated in the Petroleum Industry Bill as it were then, said to be a Trust Fund for oil producing host communities. We are saying again that the people of the South South will not accept that 3 percent. We will fight for it, and if they feel that they can treat us like a trash, we are also letting them know that we own Nigeria too.
“The PIA, as we have, has not defined the difference between the host communities where the oil is drilled from and those communities where pipe lines pass through. They are telling us that the people, whose land the oil you drilled from my place passes through, will have equal share with me.
“You mean with the complete destruction of our sources of livelihood which is fishing and farming, and total pollution of our streams and farmlands with spillages, we should accept such injustice, we will not. There is a popular saying that when you push a man to the wall, he would naturally react.”
Chief Harry charged the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to redress the matter, adding “We will channel our grievances appropriately and I strongly believe this injustice will be looked into. I implore the incoming administration to correct the wrongs done to our people in the South South.
“Let the new administration not limit its renewed hope mantra to people from its political party but should consider all Nigerians, no matter the political divides, as constituents whose lives should improve and if it does so, it would endear itself to all Nigerians. We believe Asiwaju Tinubu has the capacity to redress the anomaly and make people of the South South happy for the first time.”
On his part, the Vice president of the group, Elder Dr David Okon said “as a grassroots organisation, MAPLI seeks to sensitize our people on their rights under the Nigerian federation and we believe that better days are ahead with the new leadership at both States and federal levels. The President General spoke the mind of MAPLI and we are convinced that the best will come for the six States of the South South”