Members of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), yesterday, described the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as passed by the National Assembly as “immoral and draconian.”
The group, led by Chief Benjamin Tamaranebi, said if President Muhammadu Buhari signs the bill into law, the Niger Delta people would be deprived of their rights to participation and sustainable development of their region.
They stated this during a visit to elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, where they urged the National Assembly to revisit the draft PIB and amend it to uphold the 10 per cent equity shareholding as demand for transparency, accountability and sustainable development of the oil and gas industry.
They described the provision on gas flaring penalties, environmental mitigation and remediation to be paid to the gas midstream infrastructure fund as ‘oppressive.’
Canvassing the provision of host communities’ sustainable development trust fund for the remediation of polluted Niger Delta environment, as against provision in the bill, they faulted the proposed allocation of 30 per cent for frontier acreage share of profit for oil exploration in the frontier basins.
“Since it was a commercial venture, it should be left for private investors and not with the federation account. This is the section that was initially allocated 10 per cent, which was recommended for removal and increased to 30 per cent, as against the 10 per cent equity.
“In the past, huge resources were wasted in the frontier services without positive results. Experiences in the Chad Basin and Benue Trough are still fresh. The enormous waste of resources over many years led to the discontinuation of exploration activities of the Chad Basin,” they said.
The group also maintained that rather than define host communities to include neighbourhoods with fuel pipelines, it should be defined in accordance with the European Union (EU) energy security, which is in tandem with international best practices.
Speaking, Clark said HOSTCOM’s position tallied with that of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), adding that it was now left for the Niger Delta people to against President Buhari’s signing of the PIB until the contentious and necessary aspects were amended in line with the aspirations of the region.
Clark, who recalled the circumstances that led to the amalgamation of Southern and Northern Nigeria in 1914, said it was unfortunate that northerners have taken full control of the oil and gas industry to the detriment of the Niger Delta people.