Port Harcourt — Public hearing for the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, should be held in the oil and gas host communities in the Niger Delta and not in Abuja, for adequate participation, a stakeholder has said.
Former Chairman of the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Ledum Mitee, said holding public hearing on issues bordering the host Communities in the PIB, was tantamount to shaving the people’s head in their absence.
Mitee, who is also a former President of MOSOP, wondered how many people from the host communities can afford a round trip to Abuja.
According to him, “The bill is an important one for the Niger Delta communities, therefore the people form local communities should be part of it.
“Local people in the host Communities, should be granted the opportunity to participate and interrogate the Bill, because how many people in the rural host community can afford to travel to Abuja?”
The stakeholder also frowned at the section of the PIB, which stipulates that funds for repairs will be deducted from host communities’ percentage, if there is a damage to oil facilities in their domain.
He described the clause as very wrong, and was akin to putting the law upside down.
“If you look closely, that section stipulates that their (host communities) accruals will be used in fixing any damaged facilities in their domain. The cost of repair will be deducted from any money that is due them for the year.
“What that means is that, whether the damage is operational failure or outright not caused by members of the community, the host community will pay for it.
“We are putting the law upside down. Someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the constitution, but in this case they are putting the community guilty until they’ll have to prove their innocence. I think this is wrong.”