…Lists grey areas for amendment
By Omeiza Ajayi
Host Communities Producing Oil and Gas HOSTCOM have again kicked against the 2.5 percent equity shareholding recommended for oil impacted communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill PIB, insisting that anything short of their initial demand for 10 percent would be stoutly rejected and could be a recipe for renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.
National President of HOSTCOM, High Chief (Dr) Benjamin Style Tamanarebi who disclosed this in a statement Sunday in Abuja said indications point to the fact that the federal government is not interested in the passage of the bill because of lack of sincerity.
According to Tamanarebi, the statement is an executive summary of the joint committee on PIB town hall meetings between the National Assembly and the Government of the States, stakeholders and Host Communities Producing Oil and Gas that took place from 1st to 5th March, 2021.
He said the Niger Delta militants have been calm because of the high expectation that the HOSTCOM will secure the 10% equity in the PIB to at least atone for the monumental degradation of their environment.
According to him, it is in the interest of all stakeholders that the federal government stopped treating the Niger Delta with kids gloves as it may boomerang.
In the executive summary that was jointly signed by the National President and chairmen of the nine State chapters of the HOSTCOM, they reiterated their position to stand by the On-shore Host Communities so defined as “Host and directly impacted Communities 50km radius of the Project site which includes pipelines”.
They want Part 111. Sections 3,4,5, which said, the Commission shall not undertake both commercial and regulatory activities at the same time and should not tamper with federation account funds such as the proposed 10% of rents on petroleum licences and petroleum mining leases which are usually in dollars to be expunged.
They demanded that the Governing Board be expanded to accommodate each of the Producing States and HOSTCOM representatives.
“The Governing Board of the Authority should also be expanded to accommodate each of the Producing States and HOSTCOM representatives.”
On Section 47, which deals with Funding of the Authority: they want the proposed 1% to be expunged since the National Assembly appropriates funds to the Authority on a first line charge in addition to four other sources of funds.
They also want the Midstream Gas Infrastructure Fund contained in Section 52 to be expunged and the Location of the Headquarters (HQ) of the Authority to be in the major Petroleum Producing States.
On section 54 which deals with Transfer of Assets and Liabilities, they demanded; “Let it be made clear that NNPC must remain a Government National Company and any sale of shares must be with the approval of the Federal Government, the Petroleum Producing States/HOSTCOM and the National Assembly.
“The assets NNPC controls belong to the Federation not the Federal Government alone. Assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC not transferable to NNPC Limited or its subsidiary under sub section (1) of this section, shall remain the assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC until they become extinguished or transferred to the Government.
“The Petroleum Producing States must be given rights to first refusal to acquire the shares since most of the assets NNPC Ltd manages are derived from Petroleum which is produced from the Petroleum producing States”.
They also want section 68 subsection 3, sections 77(3); 78(2) etc, which provides for 1,500sq kilometres for any frontier acreage and limitless period for exploration to be expunged
They demanded that Section 86 which deals with the Duration and Renewal of leases and licences to be for 5years minimum and 10years maximum.
Among a host of other demands, they also want Section 257 which deals with penalty against the HOSTCOM for an act of vandalism, sabotage etc to be expunged as HOSTCOM is neither the Chief Executive Officer of their locality or the State nor Government security agency.
“We would also like to know about the position of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) and Petroleum Equalization Fund since they were very conspicuous in the previous bills.
“All the amended interpretations should also be so stated in the bill.”
They demanded that the Headquarters of NNPC Limited, the Commission and Authority be located in the major Producing Oil and Gas States to demonstrate Government’s transparency and guarantee for sustainable development.