South-South Governors, on Tuesday, demanded the upward review from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent, appropriated to the Trust Fund for host oil Communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Chairman of the South-South Forum and Governor of Delta, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, stated this at the end of the South-South Governors’ meeting in Port Harcourt.
Okowa said that the 2.5 per cent that was appropriated in the PIB, now before the National Assembly for the host communities, was inadequate.
“We are of the view that while we welcome the Host Community Trust Fund, we do believe that 2.5 per cent that is appropriated in that bill for the purpose of host community fund is inadequate.
“We have discussed with our people and collectively as leaders of the people in our various states and as leaders standing in on behalf of our people, we urge the National Assembly to increase the provision in the host community fund from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent.
“This is in the best interest of our communities and the nation,’’ Okowa said.
If satisfied with the provision of the trust fund, Okowa maintained that the host communities would be watchdogs of oil facilities on behalf of the Federal, State Governments and oil companies.
“A peaceful environment in the various oil communities would enable us have greater and seamless production, without any form of disruption going into the future.
“The Governors have also urged President Muhammadu Buhari that in the absence of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), funds for the commission, beyond the payment of salaries, should be put in an escrow account until he constitutes the board,’’ Okowa said.
“We do know that there is a forensic audit taking place and for that reason the board has not been constituted.
“Our advice is that monies being sent to the NDDC should be put in an escrow account, until a board is constituted and then proper processes are followed in the expenditure of the money for visible accounting,’’ he said.
He described as worrisome the running of the NDDC in over a year by an Interim Caretaker Committee, and now an Interim Administrator.
According to him, this situation does not augur well for the people of the Niger Delta, as the opportunity for all states to be represented on the board of the NDDC did not exist.
“So, it means that the NDDC is being run in such a manner that it is not beneficial to our people, because there is no stakeholder input in the running of the affairs of the NDDC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by Gov. Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa-Ibom), who was represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo. (NAN)