Senators from Niger Delta on Wednesday kicked against proposed legislation seeking to make Bauchi, Lagos and Ogun oil-producing states.
The debate ensued as the Senate considered a bill seeking to amend the Niger Delta Development Commission Act to include Lagos, Ogun, Bauchi and others that had attained the status of oil-producing states into the Act.
The nine states already captured in the NDDC Act are Cross River, Edo, Delta, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Ondo.
The bill, which passed the second reading during the plenary, was sponsored by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos).
Adeola said Bauchi, Lagos and Ogun had officially joined the league of oil-producing states following the discovery of crude oil in Alkaleri, Badagry and Ipokia respectively.
“By virtue of this, the states are entitled to the 13 per cent derivation that is due to oil-producing states according to the provision of Section 162 Sub-Section 2 of the Nigerian constitution.
“Mr President, the purport of this bill is for the Act to make provision for new states who have joined the leagues of oil-producing states in Nigeria and for states that might eventually discover oil in the future as opposed to the present position of the Act which only covers oil-producing states within the Niger Delta region.
Furthermore, the inclusion of the new oil-producing states in the Act saves costs and follows precedence.
“This amendment is to accord the same provisions of the law amongst other benefits accrued to oil-producing states in Nigeria to the new oil-producing states and future oil-producing states,” he said.
Reacting, senators from Niger Delta opposed the proposed inclusion of Lagos, Ogun and Bauchi States in the NDDC.
Senators George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers), Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo) and Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta), said the NDDC was created to address the environmental degradation caused by oil exploration in the region.
Urhoghide said states outside of Niger Delta were free to share from the 13% derivation provided they produce oil in commercial quantity, stressing that adding them to the NDDC was out of place.
The senators from the region, therefore, urged Adeola to pursue the establishment of a commission to address developmental issues in the South West instead of seeking to make Lagos and other members of the NDDC.
Omo-Agege described Adeola as a “meddlesome interloper” and advised him to intensify efforts for the creation of the South West Development Commission.
Senators from the north, who contributed to the debate, supported the bill but said the states outside of the Niger Delta should not be part of NDDC.