Prioritize Petroleum Host Community Fund Bill, IYC charges NASS

The Ijaw Youth Council, IYC has called for the expeditious passage of the remaining components of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, particularly, the Petroleum Host Community Fund Bill by the National Assembly.

It would be recalled that the PIB after sitting in the National Assembly since the year 2008, was broken down into four components, namely the Petroleum Industry Institution Framework Governance Bill, PIGB, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, the Petroleum Host Community Fund Bill and the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, by the seventh Republic National Assembly for easy passage.

The Senate had last week passed the harmonised version of the PIGB, which contains the restructuring and reformation of the nation’s oil and gas industry.

Speaking to our correspondent on telephone, the President of IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, said the Niger Delta region is unsatisfied with the delay in the passage of the Host Community Fund Bill aspect of the PIB.

Omare charged members of the National Assembly to make the Petroleum Host Community Fund Bill as its next priority, as it was the only panacea for peace in the Niger Delta region.

He added that the people of the Niger Delta region are disappointed that the National Assembly prioritised the governance aspect of the PIB over the host community aspect.

“The area that is of interest to us in that Bill is the area of Host Community Fund, but the one that was passed is just that of governance (PIGB) so we are not satisfied.

“We feel that the one relating to host communities should have been prioritised over the governance aspect of the PIB.

“So our call is for the National Assembly to move on to the next aspect of the PIB which is the Host Community Fund, so that host community will feel the impact of crude oil in their environment.”

The President of the Ijaw Youth Council, also explained that the Petroleum Host Community Bill is the only key to peace and security in the Niger Delta region, adding that this will give the host communities a stake in the oil and gas business in the country.

On plans to include communities in Kaduna, Kano and other states outside the region as host communities in the Petroleum Host Community Fund Bill, Omare said that IYC will make it clear to the National Assembly during the public hearing on the bill, that petroleum host communities are communities that produce oil and gas resources and also bear the brunt of oil exploitation and not otherwise.

According to him, “That is what the National Assembly during last administration tried to do, but as far as we are concerned, that is not the expectations of the people of the Niger Delta.

“When we talk about host communities, we are not talking about all the communities in Nigeria, but we are talking about the real host communities that produce oil and gas resources, not communities that oil pipelines pass through.

“We have made our presentation to the Senate and during the public hearing, we shall be there because we don’t agree with what has been proposed.

“The host community fund is a technical way of the host communities having control over their resources, because under that law a certain percentage of profit from oil and gas exploration will be given back to the communities and which is what we have been agitating for over the years, for the communities to have a stake in the oil that is produced in their environment.”