*Demands definition of petroleum host community
Port Harcourt — The National Assembly has been charged to take a holistic look at the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, before its final passage, in order to protect the interest and rights of the oil producing communities.
A stakeholder and former House of Reps Member, Nduese Essien, who made the call said penalty and royalties on gas flaring should not be paid into the federation account, but directly given to the host communities, since they bear the brunt of gas flares.
Essien regretted that the PIB has not really defined what or who a host community is, stressing that a host community should be clearly defined and corrected before the final passage of the Bill.
“The petroleum host communities, they host the hazards and deprivations, they also host the gas flaring, while all the benefits such as royalty, gas flaring penalties, and all the other things are paid to the federation account and subsequently shared to all Nigerians. It is the most absurd situation.
“What is the justification for sharing to all parts of the country? Gas flare penalty should not be treated that way, so the PIB should look into such areas and be able to address inconveniences and the causes of disaffection within the host communities that have always led to disruption of production and the rest of it.”
Essien also urged the National Assembly to review the process of allocating oil blocks, emphasising that oil producing communities should be involved, unlike the present norm where individuals from a section of the country had the sole right to own oil blocks.
“Somebody had the audacity to say that the oil in the South belongs to the North, that it drained from the North and accumulated in the South. Apparently, that is why they have been given to exploit the oil resource. And since this statement was made, no federal agency has commented on it. It is therefore assumed to be taken.
“So, the PIB should address that situation and it should review the allocation of oil blocks and get the people from the host communities to be involved in the process of exploitation of petroleum resources without which the PIB will have no meaning.”
The stakeholder also regretted that most Niger Delta Governors appropriated the benefits of oil host communities to the entire state, thus further worsening the status of these communities.
He said the host communities having been deprived of ownership, by allocation of oil blocks to non-host community people, they (members of host communities) have also been deprived of participation in the petroleum management agencies.
“Like you know, for many years now the NNPC is always headed by people from non oil producing areas. In fact, almost all the Board members for years, have always come from non oil producing communities.
“So, this is not a pleasant situation. That may also explain the fact that people from non oil producing areas are the ones that have excelled in the study and experience of the oil industry much more than people from here.
“What I am suggesting is that the PIB should state specifically what positions would be given to people from the oil producing areas, on the boards of agencies managing petroleum, so that we can be sure of participation in the management of the petroleum industry.”