•Divided over birth control
MUSA BABA AHMED and JONAS EZIEKE, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to summon the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Content Monitoring Board (NCMB) and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), the Department of Petroleum Reosurces (DPR) with a view to investigating violations of the grant of right of first refusal in the award of oil and gas contract in line with provisions of the Local Content Act.
These resolutions followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Lovette Idisi (PDP, Delta) noting that Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act was enacted in 2010 for the purpose of ensuring that all operators involved in any project in the oil and gas industry consider Nigerian content as an important element of their overall project development and execution.
He said: “The perennial breach of section 3 of the Act that provides for the exclusive consideration of Nigerian independent operators who demonstrate ownership of equipment, employment of Nigerian personnel and capacity to execute such jobs, to be given the right of first refusal in the award of oil blocks, oil field licenses, oil lifting and in all projects for which contract is to be awarded in the Nigerian oil and gas industry”.
Debating the matter, Hon. Osai Nicolas said: “When you look at the exploration area, you will discover that Japanese companies take more that 80percent of the contracts. This automatically makes mince of our local content law and renders it useless as it takes away jobs that should have ordinarily be meant for Nigerians. So I urge the House to mandate the committee to vigorously wade into the scenario with a view to correcting it”.
Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi) observed that: “Laws are made for humans to obey, and not animals. We have this law, and those working to earn their living within our shores must be made to obey our laws”.
“The people violating this law are the ones contributing to the impoverishment of our people by taking away jobs meant for Nigerians. Such things can never happen in other climes where these foreigners come from”, he said.
The motion was passed and referred to the House committee on Petroleum (Downstream) for further legislative actions.
Meanwhile, the House also resolved to investigate activities of the Nigerian Oil Industry Regulatory Authorities and the need to complete all ongoing and outstanding unitization processes of straddled oil and gas fields.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), noting that companies, local and international that are involved in these assets or that hold legal title to these blocks have on many occasions been locked up in unnecessary and unending legal tussles as means of settling the issues involved.
The motion which was not debated was passed and the matter referred to the House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) for further legislative actions and report back to the House within 6 weeks.
He said: “The main aim of unitization of oil and gas assets is to maximize resources involved in the exploration and exploitation of straddled fields, thereby availing government the opportunity to be in a vantage position by paying only once, the incurred exploration and exploitation expenses”.
Similarly, members of the House of Representatives were almost at daggers-drawn yesterday over a motion urging the Federal Government to take steps to curb population explosion in the country by urgently coming up with a workable population reduction policy.
The motion, though, simple and innocuous in its prayers turned controversial via debates by members on religious and ethnic lines as efforts by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara failed to douse the fire, forcing him to rule that the motion be stood down for further consultations and advice from the House committee on Rules and Business before further actions can be taken.
This was necessitated by palpable tension among Muslim members extraction who stuck to their positions, quoting copiously from the Holy Qur’an, The Constitution and the House Rules.
No sooner had the sponsor of the motion, Hon. Babatunde Gabriel Kolawole (APC Ondo) finished presenting the motion than fireworks began.
Some Muslim lawmakers mainly from the North said the motion should be discarded because it was anti- Islam, but others insisted the motion made sense and was of national interest.
Hon. Kolawole, while moving the motion said: “A report by US-based Population Reference Bureau, PRB, in its 2011 World Population Data Sheet, released last year states that Nigeria’s population would be 433 million by 2050, subsequently making Nigeria the 3rd largest country in the world by 2050”.
“The implication of this is that Nigeria would be the third largest country in the world, behind India and China, even bigger than the United States of America (USA) and with only a 10 per cent of the land mass.”
He noted that though Nigeria has hit the 166 million mark, about five million people are still added to Nigeria’s population on a yearly basis.
Kolawole also expressed concerned that the National Population Commission is not alive to its responsibility of researching and monitoring the National Information Databank as well as advising the President on Population matters.
According to him; “the unbridled population growth rate puts pressure on the country finances and infrastructure especially roads, housing, education, health, economy and is a catalyst for unemployment, crime, poverty among others.”
Stressing the seriousness of the issue, he warned of the challenges of over population as face by countries such as China ( 1.4 billion and India (1.28 billion), expressing concern “that Nigeria – as a potential third largest country in the world – is heading in such direction if it does not immediately commence the implementation of an action plan.”
He therefore prayed that the House urge the Federal Government to curb Population explosion by urgently coming up with a workable population reduction policy and that the FG to direct the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to educate Nigerians on the benefits of family planning.
The first missile against the motion was from a two- term member, Hon. Sanni Abdul who insisted that the motion should be trashed because it does not make sense.
According to him, Nigeria has the land mass to accommodate any population increase hence, it was unnecessary for anyone to consider a legislative intervention for population reduction, let alone for members to sit and waste time debating it. “It is a waste of legislative time,” he said.
Hon. Balarabe Salame ( APC Sokoto) said the mover of the motion was targeting Islam and Muslims, adding that Islam as a religion abhors population reduction and birth control.
Zakari Mohammed, Chairman House Committee on Information in the 7th House said he was not against planning, but against the motion. And that the Constitution promotes a healthy family life, hence he would not support it. He added that “Nigeria has more than enough to take care of what (people) we have.”
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara at a point had to intervene. He said the motion was not against any religion and there was the need to plan and decide if 5 million annual births could be absorbed by the country.
His words: “There is no attack, it is about policy. It is not against Islam or Christianity, it’s for planning. We must sit down and tell ourselves, can we accommodate 5 million more per year? We are Representatives of the people, I don’t see how it is against a particular religion, it is for policies on population management.”
He thereafter referred the motion to the committees on Justice and Population as well Rules and Business for advice on how to proceed following arguments and points of order from members like Orker Jev, Jagaba Adams Jagaba, Ken Chikere and others who were in favour of the motion.