A member of the House of Representatives from Benue State, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah, alleged that the Senate made 20 illegal insertions into the 2021 Electoral Bill under consideration in the National Assembly. Gbillah said the insertions were part of a larger scheme to rig the 2023 general election.
The lawmaker who was chairman of the House committee involved in the harmonisation of the bill, and who was deputy chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), also condemned the three per cent allocation to oil producing communities by the Senate in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), describing it as “unfortunate and ridiculous”. He rejected the 30 per cent clause in the PIB for “frontier exploration”, which he said was an invitation to corruption and remained unacceptable.
Speaking on Arise TV, Gbillah insisted that the Senate inserted 20 clauses that were not originally part of the Electoral Bill in the Senate version after harmonisation by the two chambers.
Gbillah stated, “Let me go to the issue of Electoral Act. Chairman of the committee in the house mentioned and told our colleagues that she was not aware of any changes for the initial harmonised act of both chambers.
“Obviously, there is an insertion. I can confirm that about 20 clauses have been inserted and it is alleged that it was inserted from the senate version. I want to say that we are at a point in the country, where you should not be playing politics with this issue in this country.
“I wonder why people think that they are going to stay in power in perpetuity. Tomorrow, it will be somebody else; we need to leave a legacy for our country. We need to leave a legacy for our nation. The world is moving forward and we are still deliberating on electronic transmission, when it is something that is a forgone issue in other nations.
“We in the opposition are insisting that the issue of electronic transmission is sacrosanct and we suspect that those insertions were intentional, premeditated so that this Electoral Act will be contentious and won’t be passed so that in the upcoming elections, the ability to rig and manipulate the result of the election will be possible.
“This is unfortunate. This is something we are going to resist. We call on Nigerians to rise up, for this is the time, when they should take responsibility for the people they have elected to represent them. The servants cannot dictate to the owners.
“Nigerians, you need to rise up and make your voices heard and some of us are there to support your position and to pursue what is best for this country.”
On the three per cent allocation to the oil producing communities and 30 per cent provision for frontier exploration in the PIB, to which Niger Delta governors and stakeholders have objected, Gbillah said, “The issue of PIB percentages, these are all issues we believe need to be looked at. We are not immediately affected by the production now but the Benue trough is one of the initial siting of oil. We believe in equity and we believe in justice, the people of the Niger Delta have been saddled with this issue for several decades.
“The environment has been destroyed. Three per cent is inadequate and the senate even made it much worse, which in my opinion is unfortunate and ridiculous. The 30 per cent for frontier exploration is unacceptable. It is not money that can be accounted for.”
Chuks Okocha and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja