PIA: Akwa Ibom Gov Calls For Upward Review Of 3% To Host Communities

PIA: Akwa Ibom Gov Calls For Upward Review Of 3% To Host Communities

The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Udom Emmanuel, yesterday called for an upward review of the three per cent allocation to host communities as contained in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

He said oil producing communities in the Niger Delta were hurt by what he described as the paltry three per cent allocation in the Act. The Act made a provision for three per cent allocation to oil producing communities and 30 per cent for frontier exploration which has drawn severe criticisms from stakeholders in the Niger Delta.

Speaking on ‘The Morning Show’ on Arise News Channel, as part of activities to mark the 34th anniversary of the creation of the state, the Akwa Ibom governor said the people of the state were agitated and unhappy by the allocation, a situation he said cost the state a lot in its bid to calm frayed nerves.

“If I want to speak about that, I might go a little bit harsh but it hurts us badly. For oil producing communities, a paltry three per cent?

“So what was the essence of going round to collect memoranda and it was not taken into consideration at all? It hurts us so badly and a whole lot of agitation down there and our people are not happy. I must let the whole world know that our people are not happy and it is costing us a whole lot as a government to pacify our people to allow this go, hoping that the government at the center would look at it again”, he said.

“But trust me, the three per cent that they are allocating to host communities is not enough by any ramification, and I don’t want to sound alarmist but I am also trying to make sure that we pacify our people hoping that something will be done as soon as possible,” he added.
He harped on the need to review the allocation.

“Ignoring this issue will not make it go away. I think the earlier we address it and bring people back on board, the better for everybody. The host communities are not happy, the oil producing areas are not happy, so something should be done.

“I don’t think it would be right to ignore the people. You don’t go and wake up something and cause controversy and assume things this way by ignoring it,” he cautioned.

He further warned that the issue must not be allowed to return to the era of resource control. “Laws were made for man not the other way round so those who gave the wisdom of three per cent can also give the wisdom of five per cent or more. Even if they give us 10 per cent, it wouldn’t be too much. Let them not take us back to the era of resource control. We hope it would be looked into so our people would continue to live in peace,” he said.

On the controversy surrounding collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) by states which had become a subject of litigation, he said VAT collection would be in favour of every state.

“Those who are saying that VAT collection by states would not favour them are not accurate because VAT collection by states would favour every single state in this country. No exclusion at all because it’s a consumption tax. Are you going to tell me wherever there are human beings, there must be activity, and when there’s activity, there must be consumption and where there is consumption there must be VAT and where there is VAT, there is revenue”, he said.

On the progress made by the state-owned airline, Ibom Air, he said the airline which started with three aircraft now operates eight commercial planes.

He said the oil producing state was developing a smart terminal that would process one million passengers every year.

“Anytime there is talk about aviation development in Akwa Ibom, I get very excited because in the face of adversity, when others are saying it is a casting down, that we are trying to let Nigerians know that there is a lifting up.

“I also want people to know that when we talk about adversity, the quotient is in every single human being, and you can bring that to bear in whatsoever you do.

“I appeared on a program one time and it generated a whole lot of questions. I said that as a people and as a state, everybody knows, we may not have cash, but we can create money and there are various ways of creating money,” he said.

“If you look at the big countries in West Africa not even one has a national carrier; Nigeria does not have and it pricked my mind that this is not rocket science and as a state we can venture into”, he said.

According to him, “I was sworn into office, May 29, 2015. We started discussing Ibom Air immediately, and I won the election. After the election, by April, before I was sworn in April 2015, we inserted the concept to see what we needed to do and then today is a success story and we are going to do more.

“Secondly, we are developing a smart terminal building that would not only compete in Africa, but in the world. A smart terminal building that can process one million passengers every year.
“We are taking aviation development as a major gateway. We are thinking of a cargo terminal and also dominating the regional.”

Meanwhile, speaking about the ongoing legal tussle regarding the collection of VAT, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, yesterday said the FIRS would continue to collect the consumption tax following the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the matter.

Malami, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, that the ruling of the Court of Appeal that FIRS and the Rivers Government maintain the status quo, favoured FIRS.

“The position of not only the federal government, but indeed the judiciary is the fact that the status quo associated with the collecting of VAT should be maintained,” Malami said.

“And as far as the judicial system is concerned, the status quo as at the time the parties approached the court, it was the FIRS that was indeed collecting the value added tax. So with that in mind, the federal government has succeeded in obtaining an order that establishes the sustenance of the status quo, which status quo is that the FIRS should continue collection. This is pending the determination of the cases that were instituted by states, particularly the Rivers State Government and the Lagos State government. The cases are being determined by the court.”

“But one thing of interest is the fact that the federal government had indeed taken cognisance of the fact that where there exists a dispute between a state and the federal government, it is the Supreme Court that should naturally have the jurisdiction to determine the dispute between the state and the federation.

“And we are taking steps to consider the possibility of instituting an action before the Supreme Court for the purpose of having this matter determined once and for all,’’ Malami said.

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