By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The lawmaker representing Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma federal constituency in Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, yesterday said the people of the Niger Delta region must act in unison against the plundering of its environment by the federal government and oil companies.
Diri argued that contrary to the narrative in some quarters that the people of the region now have a better deal in the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, nothing much has changed since the coming of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, who spoke with some journalists in Yenagoa at the weekend, also lamented the refusal of President Buhari to assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance (PIG) bill.
Diri, who has picked his nomination form to represent Bayelsa Central in the Senate, noted that part of his mission in the Red Chambers would be to champion the cause of the oil-producing communities so that revenues from gas flaring for which they bear the brunt do not go to the federal government.
“Part of my promises during last election was that I was going to face environmental terrorism by the federal government and the oil companies against the country. My very first motion was on that.
“The laws are still the same; the PIB and PIG bills are not yet assented to yet, so we don’t have any better deal. We keep shouting on the floor, we keep talking and we were thinking that this time around, we will be able to pass those bills into law.
“We were thinking that communities can have some sense of belonging because they are also to benefit from the new law that’s to be passed, but unfortunately we are still back to square one because I hear the president has even refused to assent to those bills,” he lamented.
He called for true federalism, and challenged the Nigerian Government to emulate countries like United States, Canada, Australia among others, which are classic examples of countries that have adopted true federalism system of government.
He advocated for a restructured country based on devolution of powers, saying there is too much power concentrated at the centre at the expense of the federating units (the states) which are supposed to be co-equals with the federal government.
The lawmaker, who said restructuring is one of the reasons he wished to go back to the National Assembly, added that currently, there’s too much power at the centre.
He said: “I believe that there has to be devolution of powers which is the basis of restructuring. When we say restructuring, we are not talking of fiscal or geographical restructuring; we are saying there is too much power concentrated at the centre at the expense of the federating units.
“In a federal system, you have the units and the centre. So, under the rules of federalism, these two units are co-equal, none is bigger than the other, and you can see that in the United States, Canada and Australia among other country.
“There is nowhere you don’t have state police but that’s lacking in Nigeria. I am one of the advocates of devolution and restructuring of the country. In the present federalism, the federal government sees itself as supreme, operating as if we are in a unitary system of government.”