Leadership of Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSTCOM) in the Niger Delta region have differed on President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law, especially the allocation of three per cent equity to the oil producing areas.
While the faction led by the national chairman of HOSTCOM, Prince Mike Emuh, commended the president, the national president of the same HOSTCOM, Dr. Style Benjamin, described the provision of three per cent for host communities as an ambush.
Enuh said host communities have been clamouring for the Act, stressing that it was in line with the yearnings of the people and hailed Buhari for aligning himself with the aspirations of the people.
He said the HOSTCOM has accepted the three per cent equity allocated to them but “we will ask for more in the future, the government must start somewhere.
“We at HOSTCOM are impressed with President Buhari for aligning himself with the yearnings of the Niger Delta people, specifically for the signing of PIA, the long-awaited Act by host communities to manage a share of oil funds, it is something laudable and we commend him.
“It was 13 years ago the PIB was sent to the National Assembly by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and what we have been waiting for has been given to us. So, we celebrate the PIA three percent equity given to us. This is a starting point, 13 per cent derivation started with 1.5 per cent at the time of late Shehu Shagari, the then president raised it to three per cent and today we are still asking for more, but the thing is this law is the law that favours the host communities.
However, Benjamin vowed not to accept the three percent equity, saying the organisation will do everything legally to see that the provisions of the PIA that are unfavourable to host communities were reversed.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP Friday in Port Harcourt yesterday, Benjamin said, “We have continued to say that the three percent provided for the entire host communities is an ambush. We rejected the three per cent.
“What we need is to be critical stakeholders; to remain as the third critical stakeholders where the Nigerian government and the oil companies are in their JV partnership. Host communities want to be part and parcel of that.
“Yes, PIB has become a law in the country, the president has signed it and communities have been provided for, it has come to stay. We are not against it but there are some draconic clauses that affect the development of the communities and that is what we are against,” he said.