By Udeme Akpan
THE Host Communities Producing Oil and Gas in Nigeria, HOSCOM, weekend, disclosed that the three per cent, about $500 million, provided for in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, would be utilized to achieve sustainable development in the oil and gas communities.
In a telephone interview with Energy Vanguard, Chairman, HOSCOM, Dr Mike Emuh, who noted many decades of neglect, said: “We have been agitating for the development of the communities, which is lack electricity, water, roads and jobs for their youths. These communities have been neglected for several years. Everybody is suffering. However, we must appreciate what the 9th National Assembly has done. The creation of a special fund for oil and gas communities will go a long way in addressing the injustice.”
Commenting on the right strategies for development, Emuh, said: “The best form of strategy is peace and unity. We need to sink our differences and come together for the purpose of bringing development to our people. We need everybody to come together, including youth, women, and men. We need technocrats or experts in various fields to be united. When we are all together, it will be easy to draw and execute plans desired for development. We can easily turn the communities to another Dubai in Nigeria.”
The Chairman, said: “The oil and gas communities have been exposed to many environmental hazards, especially oil spills, gas flaring, from the beginning of petroleum operations in the Niger Delta. Unfortunately, these which still take place have impacted negatively on our land, water, and air, thus affecting the livelihood of the oil and gas communities. We are looking at a number of issues, including remediation. But like I noted earlier, the people must be united so that it would be easy for us to execute our plans.”
However, he commended some persons and institutions that supported the current provision in the PIB, explaining that, “PIB, has become a reality. We are hopeful that the provisions in the bill would go a long way to addressing environmental and other issues in the communities.
“We commend President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, the National Assembly, the Senate President, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Speaker, Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities, TROMPCON, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, His Royal Majesty King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass Kingdom, and others for their various roles.
“The government should continue to support the oil and gas communities in order to sustain peace and stabilize petroleum operations. The operators should also continue to do more for the communities as their immediate hosts while the community should be united as well as bring their expertise to bear in achieving sustainable development.”
He also added: “It has been a long struggle, spanning many years. In the end, 13 per cent derivation was paid to the oil and gas producing States. But the oil and gas communities have not been feeling the impact of the derivation.
“Consequently, we have severally called on the Federal government to emerge with the community host fund in order to stimulate sustainable development in the areas. In our view, this is right, apparently because these are areas that produce the oil and gas and also the environmental pollution that goes with the oil and gas operations. Besides, the fund, we have also proposed the establishment of modular refineries because of the presence of crude oil in commercial quantities in these communities.”