By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio
YENAGOA—FORMER Minister of State for Energy and Amayanabo of Nembe Kingdom Mingi XII, in Bayelsa State, King Edmound Daukoru, has charged the leadership of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSTCOM, to focus on drawing more attention to the issue of oil industry induced environmental pollution in Niger Delta.
The monarch who decried the incessant cases of oil pollution in the region and its attendant negative impacts on the socio-economic lives of the host communities, said Ogoniland was not the only polluted area in the Niger Delta, as almost every part of the region was polluted.
Daukoru, who is also the HOSTCOM Board of Trustees Chairman, spoke during the inauguration of the national elected executives officers of the body in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
He charged the newly inaugurated executives to consolidate on the achievements so far recorded and continue to educate and enlighten members on their rights as most members were uneducated and unaware of their rights.
He said: “I have taken the troubles to read the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, there are host community issues but HOSTCOM is not mentioned by name at least not in the PIA itself. If oil well is found in the farm of a lonely farmer, how does that man defends his right? They say there is security in numbers only if he aligns with other people with similar problems. That is what HOSTCOM is about.
“HOSTCOM is not a debt collector per se, HOSTCOM duties involve enlightening people as to their rights, maybe some things can only be settled by litigation in court, some may be settled by the authority or commission as the case maybe but to go from the village level to even a court room or to get a lawyer or valuer or to go to the regulator authorities is already a big tasks for small communities, who do not have the means and enlightenment to know what their rights are. That is the gap I will personally like to see HOSTCOM fill and it is a huge task.
“The second thing you must do aside enlightenment is to ensure that remediation programmes are not taken for granted. It is not only Ogoni that has polluted soils, it is happening everywhere in Niger Delta. Every year, the farms harvest and the fish catch are getting smaller, where are we heading to in another 50 years?”
In his speech, National President of HOSTCOM, Benjamin Tamaranebi, said HOSTCOM has become a strong and virile umbrella and the mouthpiece of the vulnerable people of the oil and gas producing communities, whose main objective was to have the federal and states governments to develop the long neglected marginalised and deprived oil and gas producing communities.
He listed HOSTCOM major achievements to include the PIA, direct funding to host communities and the recognition of HOSTCOM by the government.