November 25, 2020

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PIB: Niger Delta host communities demand ownership, control of trust funds

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Our Reporter

Stakeholders in Niger Delta host communities are demanding ownership and control of the host communities trust funds proposed in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) for the development of oil-produciing areas.

The stakeholders also want an increment in the contribution of 2.5 percent of the Operating Expenditure (OPEX) of companies to 5 per cent.

These are some of the highlights of a communiqué issued at the just concluded Host Community (HostCom) Colloquium organised by OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative in Owerri.

The host communities noted that the PIB failed to address the fate of impacted communities, especially those that suffer the consequences of gas flares and other environmental damages and demanded that this lacuna be provided for in the passage of the bill.

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While stating that the PIB “should be designed as a tool for resolving development challenges rather than as palliatives to host communities,” the stakeholders said the PIB “must clearly define what constitutes “host” and “impacted” communities, rather than leave that to the discretion of the companies.”

On the question of ownership, the stakeholders said the Bill “should make it compulsory for members of the Board of Trustees of the Trust to come from host communities and give communities a stronger role in the selection process, financial management and administrative procedures of operating the Trusts.”

They also said “Needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation for projects and programmes should be jointly conducted by both the communities and companies,” and that the PIB “should clearly set out timelines for implementation of projects and penalties for defaulting companies.”

The communiqué was endorsed on behalf of participants drawn from oil bearing areas by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Federation of Ethnic Nationalities of Niger Delta (FENND), and Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), among a dozen other group representatives of host communities.