Connected Development (CODE), OXFAM and other fiscal transparency civil society organisations (CSOs) have raised concerns over key issues in the in the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the Senate, especially the marginalisation of host communities where oil being is explored.
According to a press statement signed by CODE’S communications associate, Adaora Okoye, and made available to LEADERSHIP, the PIB did not sufficiently address the grey areas affecting host communities and has stripped oil regions of the management, governance and administration of issues that affect them directly.
The Bill suggests that the constitution of host communities development trust fund shall contain provisions mandating management committee to set up an advisory committee (“host community advisory committee”), which shall contain at least one member of each host community. CODE believes that this is grossly inadequate and advises that membership of host community advisory committee should have at least 50 per cent representation from the host communities.
CODE noted that lack of adequate representation of host communities in the advisory committee is an unfair approach that limits ability of the trust to fully develop needs assessment and development plans that can only be designed by people in the community themselves.
Expressing displeasure, CODE’s Lead on natural resource governance and extractives, Dr Onyekachi Onuoha, noted that restricting host communities’ sense of ownership as pointed out in the gaps in the bill, would fuel agitation in the region as it shows a blatant disregard for needs and priorities of the people that are the worst hit by impact of oil exploration.
“The Senate is dashing hopes of people directly affected by oil pollution, terminated livelihoods and underdevelopment caused by environmental degradation and other disasters occasioned by oil spills in the Niger-delta region.”
According to Onuoha, to worsen matters, the draft PIB proposed 2.5 per cent of annual operating expenditure of the Settlor (operator of an oil licence) to fund development in the area. Although the House of Representatives recommended five per cent for settlors operating in the upstream and two per cent for settlors in the midstream and downstream sectors, lawmaker Sani Kaita from Katsina moved an amendment for it to be reduced to three per cent, which the senate has adopted.
In addition to the call by deputy president of the Senate, Ovie Omo- Agege, for the funds from gas flaring penalties to be channelled towards developing affected communities, CODE & OXFAM urge the Senate to rethink the grey areas highlighted and promote a greater sense of ownership that is acceptable and fair to the host communities.
Connected Development [CODE] in partnership with OXFAM since 2018, have driven a campaign in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria that raises awareness on improving accountability and transparency in the dealings between host communities, oil and gas companies, and the government, particularly to address challenges relating to negative impact of the business operations of the extractive sector in these host communities, which usually has a causal relationship with conflict and fragility.