The ongoing rift over the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill by the National Assembly deepened on Saturday as ex-governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State lambasted the senator representing the Bayelsa East Senatorial Distric, Eremienyon Degi, saying the lawmaker should not mix state politics with national issues like the PIB.
Dickson, who is currently the Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, also vowed to resist any form of intimidation from anyone over his recent comments on the three per cent allocated to the host communities in the PIB passed by the National Assembly penultimate week.
Dickson told journalists on Thursday that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), should withhold assent to the bill to avoid crisis in the Niger Delta region because the people of the area were not happy with the three per cent equity share approved for the host communities.
He had lamented that while the Buhari-led regime proposed five per cent for the host communities in the original bill sent to the National Assembly, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, while addressing the Senate said approving anything above 2.5 per cent for host communities, would discourage investors.
Dickson’s colleague from Bayelsa East, Degi, in a statement on Friday, absolved Sylva of any blame, and accused Dickson of instigating violence in the oil-rich region, with his statement.
But Dickson in a statement he personally signed on Saturday, titled, “Dickson replies Sylva, Senator Degi,” vowed to resist any attempt at intimidating him over his position on the matter.
The senator insisted that his statement was not a personal attack on the minister or anybody.
The statement read in part, “What I said is a statement of fact unknown to the public which was relayed for better information and appreciation of the efforts made by the South-South senators to get at least 5 per cent for the communities.
“It is therefore difficult to understand the basis upon which Senator Degi would come up with such a curious publication accusing Senator Dickson of inciting violence
“Aware of the recent political developments in Bayelsa, we urge Degi to live above his personal pains. He should refrain from spreading hatred, propaganda and falsehood.
“He should concentrate on making productive contributions to the development of his communities, state and indeed the Niger Delta.
“If there are people who should know that Senator Dickson cannot be intimidated by mischief, propaganda and falsehood at the federal level, Degi and Sylva should know more than most.
“For his information, Dickson does not play petty politics by bringing local issues to blackmail people at the federal level.
“This is why in spite of the attacks on him, Senator Dickson has lived above them to try to show solidarity with all ‘Bayelsans’ across party lines in the interest of our people.”
“It is also important to state that in Senator Dickson’s characteristic manner, when Chief Timipre Sylva was nominated minister, he congratulated the minister, and thanked the President for the appointment.
“As governor, I also directed Senator Degi’s former colleagues in the Senate who now are Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, to assist with his clearance, an act that the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, publicly commended.
“Senator Degi knows what Senator Dickson stands for and the impact he made in Bayelsa if he chooses to be honest.
“Degi, Sylva and their cohorts should note that the truth has to be told, that actions and inactions have consequences and he cannot put them away by propaganda and scapegoating.
“History will record who did what at what particular time. The judgment belongs to history.
“ It is common knowledge that the oil producing communities, the entire Niger Delta and all well meaning Nigerians are outraged by the reduction of the host community funds and other sections in the PIB now passed. Degi and Sylva should make bold to address this.
“The challenges of managing communities with the way the PIB has been mismanaged are obvious for all to see and have nothing to do with Dickson’s frank, honest, advice, views and proposals which are available as he continues to work with other Nigerians in the pursuit of the National good as a patriot.
“Senator Dickson’s view which many see as rational is that the two per cent difference is not what the tension challenges and uncertainties.”
Attempts to get the reaction of Degi to Dickson’s statement were futile on Saturday as calls made to its mobile phone indicated that it was switched off.