A bill to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act for the inclusion of new oil producing states has passed second reading at the Senate.
This followed the presentation of the lead debate by the sponsor, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan (APC-Lagos West) at Wednesday’s plenary.
Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, Olamilekan said the bill was read for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.
He said that the bill sought to amend the NDDC Act 2000 to include states that had attained the status of Oil Producing States with similar circumstances as those listed in the Act.
“In this era of change where government is desirous of raising revenues for development, the discovery of crude oil in new states in the country can only amount to additional revenue for the government.
“Following the discovery of oil in Bauchi, Lagos and Ogun, these states have officially joined the League of Oil Producing States in Nigeria.
“This is following the discovery of crude oil in Alkaleri Local Government, Bauchi; Badagry, Lagos, and Ipokia, Ogun.
“By virtue of this, the states are entitled to the 13 per cent derivation that is due to oil producing states according to the provision of Section 162 Sub-Section 2 of the Nigeria Constitution,” he said.
Contributing, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said dealing with the issue of 13 per cent derivation was not an issue.
“To us that is not an issue. The issue is whether or not just because they are oil producing states they should come under NDDC.
“The commission is a regional development commission. We must draw a distinction between the NDDC and the oil and mineral producing commission,” Omo-Agege said.
Similarly, Sen. George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers East) said “I congratulate these states where my friend said they have discovered oil.
“What I don’t know is that whether the oil is in commercial quantity and they are drilling them out for sales and the money going to Nigerian coffers. That one, he has not expantiated on that one.
“Are they are they exploring oil; are they refining oil in these places and has the oil caused any devastation in that environment.
“The purpose of the NDDC is not just because they found oil there. It is because the place has been so devastated and there is a need to see how they can remedy the place and because that place is so backward.
“Each time there is a law to support a backward people; to support people who are suffering, Nigerians will come out after a couple of years to dampen the strength of that law.”
Also, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide (PDP- Edo South) said “I’m not particularly against the sponsor of this bill. I just believe that the bill should be properly posited.
“The area that constitutes Niger Delta is very clear. The nine states of the Niger Delta region are very clear. Today what each state gets from the 13 per cent derivation is a function of production.
“Gombe is fast becoming a host community; Bauchi and some other states. But to say these states belong to the Niger Delta region is not possible.
“If the idea is you want to share out of the 13 per cent derivation, they are at will as long as they produce oil but to say they must belong to Niger Delta, it makes mockery of the idea in the creation of NDDC.”
President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan thereafter, referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Niger Delta to report back to the house in four weeks.(NAN)