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PIB Saga: $10 Million Bribery Scandal, Timipre Sylva, Sen Bassey Albert The Real Evil Of Niger Delta

Peter Jerome

Despite the series of outcry and agitation by host communities, and governors largely of the oil-rich Niger-Delta region, who had complained that three per cent is insufficient against decades of environmental degradation and neglect inflicted on traditional settlers, requesting for at least 10 per cent, even though the administration initially proposed five per cent, President Muhammadu Buhari still signed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law this week despite the controversies surrounding the meagre three per cent equity stake for host communities.

However, the state-run NNPC and other operators dug their heels in, saying any sharing arrangement that allows more than three per cent to host communities will cut too deep into their revenue margins and alienate potential investors in the country’s wobbling oil sector.

According to a disclosure by the People Gazette, Sen Bassey Albert Akpan, popularly known as “OBA” a serving Nigerian Senator representing Akwa Ibom North/East senatorial district and Timipre Sylva the former Governor of Bayelsa State, all from the Niger Delta region were major tools in the sell-out game especially as it affected the region’s interest in the bill.

All effort to reach out to Sen Bassey Albert or his media aid by TMS News correspondent proved abortive.

Gazette further disclosed that an initial tip-off of least $10 million was paid in cash to members of the National Assembly to help expedite passage of the bill despite widespread opposition to a clause that granted only three per cent of upstream oil companies’ operating income to host communities.

Specifically, the lawmakers are seething over what one of them described as “greedy misconduct” of Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamiala, who were accused of taking $2 million each in cash bribes to ram the bill through despite protests from host communities.

A Nigerian billionaire of far-reaching acclaim who has perhaps the largest contemporary stake in the oil and gas industry was said to have provided $2 million alone, while other firms and individuals in the oil and gas industry provided the remaining $8 million. The Gazette however claim they could not publicly identify the billionaire because their reporters are yet to obtain direct evidence linking him to the bribery.

“The Senate President received $2 million, and the Speaker received $2 million,” a senator disclosed under anonymity to avoid charges of breach of privilege. “Their greedy misconduct was recently exposed to us and we will seriously take up the matter when we resume from the annual recess next month.”

“From what I can volunteer, many senators were given $20,000 before and after the PIB was passed, depending on their availability,” the senator said.

Another lawmaker furious about the affair admitted that he received $5,000, but said he didn’t know it was part of a multimillion-dollar payout to lawmakers to pass the bill.

“They gave me $5,000 and said it was for us to buy biscuits for our children for labouring day and night to get the bill to the stage of passage,” the lawmaker said under anonymity. “To God, I did not know that it was about $10 million that they received and some crooks calling themselves leaders got $2 million each for themselves.”

“We will protest the matter after our break because some people have to realize that they don’t have two heads and we have to fight for our rights and privileges as members of the National Assembly,” the lawmaker added. “Each one of us is representing a constituency and that makes us all equal because no one at the National Assembly is representing more than one constituency.”

The lawmakers disclosed that the cash logistics was coordinated by state petroleum minister Timipre Sylva and Senator Albert Akpan (PDP-Akwa Ibom).

According to Gazette, a senator disclosed that Sen. Akpan sent one of his aides to deliver $20,000 to him at his office.

“He (Mr Akpan) sent a woman from his office to give me $20,000,” the senator said. “They said the money came from people who have investments in the oil and gas and they wanted to appreciate us for our dedication in seeing the bill through after so many years of failed efforts.”

Sen. Bassey Albert is rumored to be nursing ambition for the governor of Akwa Ibom State come 2023.

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