The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has asserted that the role of state governments had been deliberately whittled down in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which implementation is expected to commence this August.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo made the assertion when he received in audience a high-powered 15-member delegation from the Bayelsa Amazons Advocacy Campaign Group in Government House, Yenagoa on Monday.
Lamenting that governments in the oil and gas producing states in the Niger Delta region had virtually been reduced to mere observers, he noted that there were a lot of lacunas in the PIA which clearly put the oil-bearing areas in disadvantage.
According to the Deputy Governor, the prominent shortcomings in the Act, as passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Muhammed Buhari had denied the state governments their full participation in the implementation of the PIA.
His words, “We have some lacunas in the PIA law. You can’t deprive a man of his right and expect him not to complain. Considering the way that law is couched, they have actually reduced the role of the oil bearing states to that of a ‘siddon looker’.
“I’m really worried that those who made the law have, as usual, undermine the state in terms of exploration and management of oil resources. And you know that anything that does not have a legal backing, lacks the potency for its enforcement.
Responding to some of the requests made by the BAACG, the Bayelsa number two man assured them that government would set up a committee to monitor and follow-up the implementation of the PIA in the state.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who called on the group to properly articulate their agenda for gender equity, promised that the interest of women in Bayelsa would be adequately protected in line with the provisions of the PIA.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social Development and Empowerment, Hon. Faith Opene explained that the agenda being championed by the women group was aimed at achieving 30 percent representation of women in the PIA implementation.
Speaking on behalf of the Bayelsa Amazons Advocacy Campaign Group, (BAACG), Comrade Princess Egbe, appealed to the State Government to ensure the inclusion of women in the membership of the board of trustees and the management committees for the PIA implementation in the oil-producing communities.
Comrade Egbe who is the convener of the advocacy group also submitted that capital funds be equitably distributed without any form of discrimination against women in the various oil-producing areas.