By Samuel Oyadongha – Yenagoa
After years of agitations for a special development commission for oil-producing communities in Bayelsa, the state government has concluded plans to establish an Oil Communities Development Commission to accelerate the development of the oil-bearing communities.
Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Monday Obolo, who dropped the hint yesterday in Yenagoa, said an executive bill sent to the Assembly by Gov Seriake Dickson had passed first hearing and would receive accelerated passage.
The bill, according to Obolo, sets aside 13 per cent of the 13 per cent derivation funds accruing to the state to be channeled to the development of oil communities to compliment the social obligation gestures of oil firms operating in the state.
Obolo spoke at the inauguration of community development projects executed by the Oporomor Cluster Development Board for Southern Ijaw communities sponsored by Shell Petroleum Development Company.
“It is my view that the development funding currently being provided by Shell under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) is grossly inadequate compared to the level of contribution to oil output.
“The environment in our communities in Southern Ijaw has been so degraded and nothing is too much for the communities and that is why the Gov Seriake Dickson administration has taken steps to establish an Oil Producing Areas Commission to complement the GMoU,” Obolo said.
Earlier, Mr. Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations, SPDC noted that some 60 development projects were completed for the Oporomor cluster at a cost of N737.4 million for 2019.
Weli, who was represented by Mr. Evans Krukrubo, External Relations Manager, West Asset, said the projects cut across infrastructure, economic empowerment transportation intervention and scholarships.
His words, “The handover of these completed projects highlights the support SPDC gives to people in our areas of operation when there is a conducive environment for interaction and when we all take up the opportunities available to engage on matters that affect all of us.
“We encourage other communities to emulate the Oporomor GMoU Cluster and development board peaceful and progressive schemes to develop our communities.”
Chief Ebipremene Feboke, Chairman of Oporomor Cluster Development Board applauded SPDC for adopting the GMoU model for the development of its host communities adding that it allowed community involvement in the selection and implementation of projects.
Feboke noted that the GMoU process has an inbuilt governance structure that ensures transparency and accountability as opposed to the previous model where the oil firm decides on projects and awards contracts without input from the people.