Port Harcourt — Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, on Thursday advocated not less than 10 percent fund allocation to host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, that is before the National Assembly.
Governor Wike said it is also necessary that the bill state in clear terms what specific development projects that the allocated fund should be spent on, so that development of host communities can be truly actualised.
The governor gave the charge when the members of the National Assembly Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill visited him at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike stated that oil-bearing communities have suffered the loss of their livelihood, good drinking water and their sociocultural life disrupted because of the insensitivity of the international oil companies.
He said: “It is unfortunate that people produce oil but they live in poverty. I believe that this Petroleum Industry Bill committee will make recommendation of how certain percent must be given to the oil host communities.
“There are issues of education and health. Don’t just say 10 percent to the oil host communities. It must be tied to specific projects so that whoever is in charge will know it.
“So that he or she does not have the prerogative to initiate, like during Christmas, to buy and give 20 thousand bags of rice and tag it as project.
“Let it also not be that host community people will have this money, and you begin to see assassinations among themselves.”
According to the governor, the mistake found with the Act establishing the Niger Delta Development Commission, should be avoided because it did not specify what projects the Commission should embark on in the Niger Delta.
He added: “This same thing that has happened to the Niger Delta Development Commission, should not happen to the issues of host communities in PIB.
“If in the NDDC Act, they were able to tie the money that will be coming to specific projects, it would have developed the people of Niger Delta. And you won’t be having people fainting at the National Assembly.
“NDDC will leave their job and begin to buy vehicles for police, army, and asphalting barracks. Is it what NDDC is meant to do? That is where we have lost it.”
Earlier, the Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly Joint Committee on PIB, who led the delegation, Mr. Victor Nwokolo Onyemaechi, said the Committee was in Rivers State to hold town hall meeting with stakeholders to resolve issues of what should be allocated to host communities in the PIB.