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PIB: NGO faults public hearing process, alleges lack of transparency

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A non-governmental organisation, Social Action, has faulted the process of Public hearing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently going on in the National Assembly.

The Programme Manager of the NGO, Botti Isaac decried that the House of Representatives has denied stakeholders access to the Public hearings, a situation he maintained was tantamount to fairness and due process that would have made the public hearing credible.

Speaking with National.Assembly reporters on Wednesday, Botti expressed dissatisfaction with the whole process, noting that there were prior invitation of stakeholders by the Committee, only for the stakeholders to be denied access is wrong and unacceptable.

Botti’s view was corroborated by the Head, Democracy and Governance of the Social Action Prince Edegbuo, stating that the legislative Chambers should run an open door policy.

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CAPITAL POST reports the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan on Monday declared open a 2-day public hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) at the Senate.

Similarly, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday, declared open a sitting of the House Ad-hoc Committe on the PIB, to enhance inputs from stakeholders.

But Botti expressed disappointment on the way the lawmakers at the House of Representatives locked out participants who had come to present memoranda at the venue of the event.

“We came all the way from the Niger Delta to enable us make an input into the bill, but we are being denied access into the hearing room.

“The Governor’s of the Niger Delta who are supposed to champion the course of their people are sitting as if the welfare of their people is not important”.

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Botti explained that the audio and visuals of the Senate Public Hearing via zoom was very poor, adding that stakeholders could not make any meaningful contribution for the 2-day event.

“This is a Community problem and such meeting should be held at the state level due to the fact that it is not everyone in the community that have access to the internet as a result of the obvious lack of infrastructure.

“The environmental and economic devastation of the host communities is enormous. The public hearing is supposed to take place in the Niger Delta to enable the people make inputs on the bill that would be assented to by the president.

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“What is the guarantee that at the end of the end day, it will reflect the desires and aspiration of the people.

“We recognize that it is important for this 9th Assembly to pass the bill, it is important that that the host Community make adequate inputs. If you look at the bill, you discover that the host Community part is in shambles, it does not make adequate provision to take care of the need of the host Community.

“There is no representative from the host Community in the board of trustees.

The bill also failed to factor in the impacted Community; the communities where pipelines pass through, causing population and damages to the health of the people were not considered in the bill” Botti added.

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