Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state has expressed concern that despite the long years of oil exploration in the state, there has been no tangible impact on the lives of oil-producing communities in the state.
Governor Ikpeazu stated this when he received a delegation of the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill led by Senator Albert Bassey at Government House, Umuahia.
He noted that Abia should benefit more from the Petroleum Industry Bill when passed into Law.
He added that Abia oil-producing communities have remained peaceful more than any other oil-producing community in Nigeria, emphasising that the peaceful disposition of Abians should serve as a model for the compensation of oil-producing communities.
Governor Ikpeazu regretted that petroleum exploration and production companies who do business in the state do not pay taxes in Abia rather reside within neighbouring states and pay their taxes there.
“Despite the fact that they (oil companies) have received unfettered cooperation from the oil bearing communities in Abia State, you will not notice one signboard of any company anywhere. They don’t live here, they don’t pay taxes here.
“They come, dropped in Coaster buses led by heavily armed soldiers from Port Harcourt everyday and they leave after work by 4pm leaving the communities to their fate.
“Oil communities in Abia State remain very calm and if there’s a State that’s supposed to benefit from what you have come to do, it is Abia. And I recommended at some point that the Abia example should become the focus based on which other host communities should learn.
“But that cannot be taken for granted or weakness…”.
Speaking earlier, leader of the delegation, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan said that the delegation is divided into five committees covering various NDDC states, and that his committee covering Abia and Imo states were in the state to get the inputs of oil producing communities to the Petroleum Industry Bill undergoing consideration at the National Assembly.
Senator Akpan noted that when passed into law, the Bill will create a Trust Fund for the oil host communities without government interference, pointing out that the Bill also places responsibility on the oil host communities to protect the assets in their localities in order to create the necessary balance and stability .
While also noting that the Bill will address the hostilities within the communities, the Senators commended Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for his giant strides in all spheres of the state economy.