Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has explained why his state is one of the States that should benefit more from the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) because of the peaceful disposition of her oil-producing communities.
The Governor stated this while receiving in the audience a delegation of the National Assembly Joint Adhoc Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill at Government House, Umuahia.
According to the Governor, Abia has the record of being the most peaceful oil-producing State as oil-producing communities have not had any face-off with oil companies operating in the State.
In a statement by Onyebuchi Ememanka, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ikpeazu regretted, however, that despite the cooperation shown the companies, the State gets little or nothing in return, leaving the oil-producing communities neglected.
He lamented that the oil companies who do business in the State do not pay taxes in Abia but rather reside in a neighbouring State from where they come to Abia with the help of heavily armed security guards to do their business and leave.
He commended the Committee for the initiative to talk to Nigerians on the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill, noting that the major problem we have in Nigeria is the issue of trust.
While admitting that there is a need to talk to the people, the Governor pointed out that many Nigerians do not believe the government and stressed the need for the government to encourage the people to believe her more.
Ikpeazu said that by so doing, Nigerians would feel carried along adding that it would help assuage fray nerves. He also emphasised the need for engagement in value addition on petroleum products as against sole dependence on crude exportation
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, who said that the Committee is covering Abia and Imo States thanked the Governor for the wonderful job he is doing in the State considering how much he receives, explained that they were in the State to educate Abians on the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill which is an executive bill and what they stand to gain from it.
Senator Akpan said that as a country, Nigeria has no choice but to pass the Bill adding, however, that parliament, stakeholders, and the executive must all have a consensus.
He explained the main thrust of the Bill is the creation of a Trust Fund for the host oil-bearing communities without government interference, adding that the bill places responsibility on the host community to protect the asset in their vicinity in order to create a balance and stability on their God-given resources.
Before departing the State, the Committee will be visiting the oil-producing areas of the State.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Ifeanyi Uba, Senator Bidoun Olujimi are members of the Committee who took part in the visit while the Secretary to Government, Barrister Chris Ezem and Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. ACB Agbazuere were at the ceremony.