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Petroleum Industry Bill: We can’t guarantee peace in Niger Delta if host communities fail to get 10 per cent, says nonagenarian Clark

Edwin Clark

 

“We want immediate reversal of the recently passed PIB ready for harmonization by the two chambers of the National Assembly …it is satanic, unjust, embarrassing the per cent earlier offered, it has dashed the hope of the people’’

 

“The people of the oil-rich region have been talking about taking their destiny into their own hands, very soon it will come to pass. We are not second-class citizens in this country’’

 

“What the host communities want is 10 percent in order to guarantee the businesses, investments and the safety of Investors in the region as well as peace in the area. The people reject the bill in its entirety because they want to be part of the process”

 

 

A strong warning has been issued by the leaders of the Niger Delta to the Nigerian Government and the National Assembly that the current peace and security in the oil-rich region may soon be short-lived if the federal lawmakers fail to give at least 10 per cent for the funding of the host communities Trust Fund in the Petroleum Industry Bill.

The leaders insisted that anything short of 10 percent as the actual annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year in the upstream petroleum operations for the host communities is unacceptable.

Reeling out the warning, the leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and ex-Information Minister, nonagenarian Chief Edwin Clark, said peace and security may be not be guaranteed in the region if they did not get the 10 per cent.

Clark, who had asked for the immediate reversal of the recently PIB ready for harmonization by the two chambers of the National Assembly, described it as satanic, unjust, embarrassing the per cent earlier offered, saying it has dashed the hope of the people.

“What the host communities want is 10 percent in order to guarantee the businesses, investments and the safety of Investors in the region as well as peace in the area. The people reject the bill in its entirety because they want to be part of the process.

“The people of the oil-rich region have been talking about taking their destiny into their own hands, very soon it will come to pass. We are not second class citizens in this country. I discovered that everything was manipulated in the PIB by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan,’’ he told visiting members of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) led by the National President, Benjamin Tamanarebi, in Abuja.

“The newly passed PIB obnoxious and devilish which must not be accepted. We want to be part
of the operation, let us be part of what is going on in our area which is killing us, our ecosystem, our fishes. I have had enough of these insults.

“The Federal Government must account for who are the owners of oil blocs and who are the marketers. The equity share must be 10% for the host communities and we will continue to reject it until they make us part of it,’’ Clark said.

The South south and Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) leader, said that he totally back HOSTCOM on the PIB, adding we want to be part of the operation, let us be part of what is going on in our area which is killing us, our ecosystem, our fishes.

“I have had enough of these insults.  Federal Government must account for who are the owners of oil Blocs and who are the marketers. The equity share must be 10% for the Host Communities and we will continue to reject it until they make us part of it.”

Earlier in his presentation to the Ijaw leader, Tamanarebi, demanded that the Senate and the House of Representatives should harmonize the bill and give 10 per cent equity fund for the host communities and also cut the 30 per cent approved for frontier basins development to 10 per cent.

“We have noted with dismay the way and manner the inputs of the host communities have been completely jettisoned, depriving the communities their participatory rights and sustainable development through immoral and secret review of the draft bill by the NASS, the industry players without the invitation of hostcom nor taking into cognizance the inputs of hostcom: more vexatious is not considering the critical areas in the clauses regarding the host communities as the above subject refers.

“Host communities inputs of critical areas in the passed Bill as submitted in the floor of Public hearing in both houses Adhoc joint Committees even during the Town Hall meetings of both Houses were criminally jettisoned depriving the Communities their participatory rights and sustainable development more so, the immoral and secret importation of draconic clauses into the enacted PIB in the aspect that affects us as follows: that the Report of the Senate joint Committee most especially the aspect concerning section 234 deals with the Host Communities Sustainable Development title, while 234(4d) deal with the Objectives regarding the Trust Fund was wholly jettisoned.

“What was the justification for inviting only the industry players without the Host Communities to review the PIB for passage if it was to ensure transparency, efficient legal framework, good governance, accountability and industry sustainable development for a favorable working environment.

“Chapter 1, section 1 was incomplete as it fails to include “in trust for and on behalf of the Producing Host Communities of Nigeria” as was in the Mining Lease Act. 3) The title in Chapter Three section 234 “Host Communities Development” should be revisited to include “Host Community Sustainable Development.

“Section 234 subsection 1(d) deals with the creation of a framework to support the development of Host Communities should also be revisited and amended as submitted. Section 234 sub section 4 was a new clause inserted into the bill without the knowledge of Host Communities. It deals with the word settlor and funds reduction for the trust fund.

“The word settlor is against the interest of the Host Communities. Therefore, we demand that the bill be revisited and the word “Settlor” amended as Operating Companies or International Oil Companies (IOC) as submitted.

“Section 235 subsection (3) deals with the definition of a Host Community; where the Operating Company shall determine who is a Host Community. The determining of a host community cannot contravene the UNFCCC CDM Projects international best practices, standard and criteria. Therefore, we demand that the draft PIB section 235 (3) be revisited and amended to read as: Host Communities are determined in accordance to the EU energy security which is international standard for best field practice,’’ he explained.

Tamanarebi added:”Since there is no clear definition of Host Community and Section 242 deals with the IOC appointing Board of Trustees to have the right to set-up procedures for meetings, financial regulations and administrative procedures to be approved by the Commission. In relation to the aforementioned, we demand that the bill be revisited and amended as it should be the responsibility of the community to select/elect their representatives under the watch of the Operating Companies or their representatives respectively as Observers.

“Section 240 deals with the 3.5% Opex instead of the 10% equity share holding: The passed draft PIB need to be revisited and amended to uphold the 10% equity share holding as demanded for transparency, accountability and a sustainable development Oil and Gas industry.

“Part 111 section 111, subsection (4) deals with 30% for frontier acreage share of profit for the frontier exploration of oil and gas; since it was a commercial venture, it should be left for the private investors and not with the Federation Account.

“Here again, this is the section that was initially allocated 10% which was recommended to be expunged and now jacked up to 30% as against the 10% equity share holding demanded by the Host Communities. In the past, billions of the Nations resources were swallowed in those frontier services without potential positive results, the Chad Basin and the Benue trough experiences are still fresh.

“The enormous waste of resources recorded over many years, led to the discontinuance of exploration activities at the Chad Basin. The frontier acreage should be added as a condition compelling concession-benefactors an incentive with tax emption to those who have already benefitted from field concessions.

 

“Part 111: section 111, The Governing Board of the Commission made no mention of Host Communities Representative. It is necessary that HostCom representatives be represented in all agencies set up to regulate and monitor the Petroleum Industry.

Section 52 (7a) deals with the gas midstream infrastructural fund which was initially proposed for 1% was recommended to be expunged as there are already funds appropriated by the National Assembly on a first line charge in addition to four other sources of funds has now been increased to 2.5% of petroleum whole sale price. This is an addition burden to the suffering of Nigerian citizens; therefore, we recommend that the 2.5% charge be expunged.

“Section 103 and 104 deal with Gas flare penalties and environmental mitigation and remediation to paid to the gas midstream infrastructural fund instead of the Host Communities Sustainable Development Trust fund for the remediation of the ravaged Environment.

“In relation to Article 257(2) the Host Communities are strongly opposed to that section of the Bill because it is not only oppressive but against International Best Practices and Standards.’’

Tamanarebi said in view of the fact that Settlors employ contractors who are in-charge of security/surveillance of their oil & gas facilities and as such, the host communities should not be held liable.

He suggested that in the event that that portion of the Bill is retained, then the security/surveillance contracts of the oil and gas facilities should be awarded to the host communities to manage/engage their indigenes to fully police the facilities.

“In the event that any of them are vandalized, the communities could then be made to forfeit their development fund as specified in the bill,’’ he said.

 

 

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