PIB: Niger Delta stakeholders seek ownership, control of PHC Funds
By Our Correspondent
Host communities of the Niger Delta have demanded ownership and control of the trust funds proposed in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) for the development of oil-bearing areas.
The communities also demanded an increase in the contribution of 2.5 percent of the Operating Expenditure (OPEX) of companies to 5 percent even though they expressed concerns that the proposed funding was subject to manipulation and discretion by the entities.
These demands were revealed in a communiqué issued at the end of a host community (HostCom) colloquium organised by Order Paper Advocacy Initiative in Owerri, the Imo State capital during the week.
Representatives of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Federation of Ethnic Nationalities of Niger Delta (FENND), and Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), among others, endorsed the communiqué.
In the main, the communique 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.
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.”