Local Content Law: Allison-Madueke Initiates Sensitization Campaign

Source: EWACHE AJEFU, ABUJA BUREAU CHIEF - thewillnigeria.com

ABUJA, May 25, (THEWILL) - The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, has promised to commence an enlightenment campaign to get Nigerians, especially the Niger Delta people, to know how they can benefit from the Nigerian Content Development Act which was recently signed into law.

The Minister made the pledge Tuesday while receiving the leaders of the pan-Ijaw socio-cultural group, Ijaw National Congress (INC) in her office during a courtesy visit.

The Minister said she had discussed the need for a sensitization program with the Acting Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development Board, Engr Ernest Nwapa, and mandated him to draw up a program aimed at educating the people of the Niger Delta on their rights under the law and how to take advantage of the law to empower themselves.

"We are at the implementation stage of the local content law. As you know, implementation is key and all is being done to ensure that those whom the law is meant to benefit are carried along. I will ensure that a major sensitization drive begins in the next few weeks," she told Ijaw leaders.

Allison-Madueke also called on the congress to present its recommendations on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as she was currently working round the clock to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into consideration.

The Minister thanked the INC leaders for the visit, adding that the visit was humbling and encouraging.

Earlier, the President of INC, Dr. Atuboyedia Obianime, who led the INC leaders on the courtesy call congratulated the Minister on what he described as "her elevation to the status of a super Minister since this is the third time she has been appointed Minister and her third Ministry."

Obianime, who said the visit was also to condole with the Minister on the demise of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, said the president’s death was a loss not only to the people of Katsina State but also a loss to the Ijaws and the Niger Delta people.

The INC president who raised a number of issues which he said bordered on injustice in the oil and gas sector called on the Minister to look at the Land Use Act and the proposed PIB with a view to expunging all clauses that legalize oppression of the Niger Delta people in the course of oil exploration and exploitation.

Some of the issues raised with the Minister include the need to build floating stations in the creeks to enable the people access petroleum products at regulated price, empowerment of the Ijaw people through technical skill acquisition to enable them get jobs in the oil and gas industry, payment of the proceeds of the proposed 10% equity directly to oil producing communities, empowerment of Ijaw people to participate in "official bunkering", and the setting up of a sensitization committee to go round all the Niger Delta States to sensitize the people on how they can benefit from the law.

The INC also called on the Minister to use the remaining period left of her tenure to sustain the good name she has made.