The manner the bill was passed and the content as it affects the oil-bearing Niger Delta region remain contentious issues to the people of the area, especially concerning the meagre three per cent allocation to the region.
The way the bill was passed into law by the Senate and House of Representatives smacks of a hidden agenda and a plot to marginalise the region. It clearly showed how divided into ethnic lines the country remains.
Little wonder the provision is currently raising tension in the region that had for some time been relatively calm and peaceful.
While elders strive to calm youths from returning to the old ways, stakeholders urge the National Assembly, through the harmonisation process, and by extension the federal government, to address the anomalies before President Muhammadu Buhari signs it into law.
Across the region, it is the same story of despair and dashed hope over the bill capable of rattling the peace. In Akwa Ibom State, many stakeholders have commended the youth for their calmness so far; advising them to maintain the status quo, just as others said the relative peace could be likened to ‘peace of the grave yard’.
A former special adviser to Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and a rights advocate, Opunabo Inko-Tariah, appealed to aggrieved Niger Deltans and indigenes of the oil-producing communities to exercise patience while the leaders sort things out with the authorities, adding: “It is my conviction that accommodation can be reached that will satisfy both the government and host communities.”