…Tasks host communities on effective mgt of 3% equity
…As Ijaw nation rallies support for minister
By Omeiza Ajayi
The Federal Government has disclosed of its resolve to again engage oil producing host communities in the Niger Delta on issues regarding the 3 percent of operational costs allocated to them in the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill PIB.
Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva disclosed this yesterday in Abuja when a group of Ijaw elders, leaders and critical stakeholders visited him to congratulate him on the passage of the PIB after 20 years.
Sylva who tasked host communities on effective management of the funds lamented the situation where communities in the Bonny Island cannot access funds paid to them by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company NLNG following court cases instituted by some individuals.
He also said he has extracted the commitment of multinational oil firms to relocate their operational headquarters to the Niger Delta and urged the elders to continue to sensitize communities on the need to secure public assets in their areas.
The minister said; “We are planning, alongside the Minister of Information to hold town hall meetings in the host communities after the presidential assent to the PIB. We need to have more stakeholders engagement on the 3 percent allocated to the communities. People need to know that it is from production costs and not from profit. The production cost is always higher than the profits.
“Today, I can tell you authoritatively that we are on the last mile of the oil economy. Economies around the world are now discussing renewable fuel.
“We must understand that very soon we might wake up and find out that oil is not as valuable a commodity as we thought before.
“Coal did not finish before the world moved away from coal. There is still a lot of coal deposit in Enugu today but if you give some of it to someone, he might not appreciate it because the world has moved away from coal.
“We must support every effort to ensure that the oil we have today is produced and sold so that we can get the benefits.
“For the past 20 years we have been struggling to pass the PIB and that introduces a lot of uncertainties in the horizon because when you are in the process of amending your laws, investors would hold on to see what the amendment will be.
“That was why since the last 20 years, investments in the sector was on hold. Last year, there was over $50bn investment in Africa and what came to Nigeria was $3 billon because of the uncertainty in the sector
“Our main challenge is resource management. If we manage all the money coming to the Niger Delta, NDDC, 13 percent derivation, 3 percent host communities funds and even the one from the amnesty programme, we won’t have some of the issues currently confronting us”, he added
Earlier, the 33-member delegation led by Chief Timi Kay Ogoriba commended the minister for the introduction of unprecedented massive reforms in the petroleum industry especially the radical expansion of the gas sector.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which had lingered for about 20 years, the delegation lauded the minister for handling the herculean task of working with the 9th National Assembly towards its eventual passage.
The delegation noted that by this great feat, Chief Timipri Sylva’s footprints in the sands of time would remain indelible.
They elders and stakeholders however advised that it is necessary for Government to sustain its enlightenment efforts as regards the three percent component of production costs standing as host Communities Development Trust Fund in the Bill, emphasizing that knowledge and understanding of the magnitude of socio- economic benefits the trust fund guarantees would go a long way to assuage fears and concerns.
The elders also decried the unhealthy tradition of always fighting to pull down our Sons and Daughters in public Offices, opining that the best way to go is to support our representatives at all levels to succeed.