4 President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the Leaders of the delegation, His Majesty Eze Dr. Isaac Ikonne, Enyi 1 of Aba and his delegation in an audience at the State House in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. SEPT 14 2018

A non-governmental organisation, Social Action, has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for refusing to assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill recently passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday, the Head of the National Advocacy Centre and Director of Programmes, Social Action, Ms Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, said the decline of assent to the bill by Buhari was a step in the right direction.

The President had in August declined to give assent to the controversial bill, which has been in the making for more than 10 years on the grounds that it whittled down the powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, which he presently occupies.

According to Bellonwu-Okafor, Civil Society Organisations and community groups, including Social Action, had earlier raised the 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 communities’ residents as well as the industry itself.

She said, “At present, the entire atmosphere of a state in the Niger Delta, Rivers State, is enveloped in black deadly soot, masking every object or item in that place and stealthily decimating the lives of 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 and jettison the piecemeal PIGB, which did not even make any pretence to care about or recognise the lives and 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.”

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