By Udeme Akpan
HOST Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSCON, has called on the Federal Government to prevail on the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to expedite action on the release of the licenses for their 10 modular refineries.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, National Chairman, HOSCON, Mr. Mike Emuh, said the group had met up with almost all the requirements for the award of the licenses, while its foreign financiers had provided evidence of funding for the refineries which are to be built in all the oil producing states in the country.
He also called on the government to impress on the relevant government agencies, the need for HOSCON and its foreign financiers to be granted waivers in the importation of components for the modular refineries, going by the importance of the project to the Nigerian economy.
He further called on the Federal Government to immediately release the N98 billion gas flare penalty money owed oil producing communities, while he also called on the National Assembly to pass all the various version of the petroleum industry bills before the end of the year.
He said, “It is an international law that a fine of $3.5 be paid by oil companies for every 1,000 standard cubic feet of gas flared. The law requires the fund to be paid to the host communities for environmental degradation, pollution and plundering of their communities as a result of gas flaring.
“Instead, the oil companies pay the fine to the Department of Petroleum Resources. On receipt of the money, the DPR pay the money to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, who later transfer the money to the Federation Account. This is an aberration.”
Emuh lamented the continued payment of the 13 per cent derivation fund to state governors, who he accused of mismanaging over N10 trillion paid to oil-producing states over the last 16 years.
He said the Federal Government should ensure that the 13 per cent Derivation Fund is paid directly to oil producing communities and not to state governors, especially as the governors might use the fund to prosecute the forthcoming elections.
He called on the present governors of the oil-producing states to join hands with the Federal Government in its campaign against corruption, and also partner with HOSCON to ensure the judicious utilization of the 13 per cent Derivation Fund for the development of the region.
He also averred that the 10 per cent equity should be implemented, stating that the passage of the PIB would help this initiative to come to fruition.
The HOSCON boss also appealed to the Niger Delta Avengers to suspend the planned resumption of destruction of oil and gas assets and hostilities in the region, in the interest of peace and development.
He called on the group to exercise patience with the current administration and await the outcome of a planned meeting between the Federal Government and stakeholders in the region.
He noted that the meeting, which had been scheduled around the middle of the month, is a continuation of the stakeholders’ engagement of the government which saw Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visit all the oil-producing states.
He said, “We appeal to the Niger Delta Avengers not to resume hostilities. With the ceasefire, for 11 months, there was peace in the Niger Delta region. HOSCON, which is the parent of these youths, appeal to them to be patient with the government.
”After the meeting, we are hopeful that something good would come out of it and their concerns would be addressed.”