Oil&Gas: Lack Of Govt Presence Stalls Development In Host Communities

…Hostcom National Scribe Seeks Urgent Action

Sixty-two years after crude oil was found at Oloibiri Community in present-day Bayelsa State, Nigeria has remained the sixth largest oil producing nation in the world. With more than two million barrels of oil produced daily, the country rakes in billions of dollars annually.

Naturally, this huge foreign revenue should be enough to wipe out poverty from the world’s most populous black nation but, unfortunately, the reverse is the case, as millions of Nigerians languish in poverty. Most pitiable is the fact that the rate of this abject poverty is highest in the communities where crude oil is produced.

Referred to as host communities, these oil producing communities are denied access to the oil derivation fund which is supposed to be used to change their lives positively. They also lack federal government projects while their people are allegedly treated like slaves in their own land by the security operatives stationed there.

Because of the high rate of poverty in these host communities, their young men and women engage in all sorts of dehumanizing activities to survive. Some of these acts include prostitution, kidnapping, armed robbery, pick pocketing, militancy, thuggery, pipeline vandalisation, oil bunkering, rape, drug trafficking, among others.

For Evang. Ibinabobo Watson Sanipe, National Secretary of Host Communities of Oil and Gas Producing (HostCom), these dehumanizing acts constitute some of the challenges facing the communities where oil and gas are produced.

Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt recently, Evang. Sanipe lamented that lack of government presence in host communities is majorly contributing to the backwardness of the communities.

He said: “The host communities have plenty of challenges. First, there’s no government presence in these communities. Because there’s no government presence, everything is going wrong. Yar’Adua said he wanted to give us oil derivation, but we’re not seeing it. The government keeps promising but we’re not seeing it. So these are challenges because the people are unemployed.

“The companies will come, they will stay in Lagos and they will employ them there. Then they will fly them in, two weeks they fly them back; and the people here have nothing. These are the challenges. We don’t have jobs, yet we’re the natives where the whole thing is.

“And then what does the whole thing lead to? It leads to prostitution. It leads to armed robbery. It leads to sea piracy. It leads to killings, cultism. These are all serious problems these host communities face because of lack of government presence.”

The Hostcom scribe decried a situation where oil companies provide all amenities at their flow stations for their workers and deny same to their host communities.

He also accused the governors of the nine Niger Delta states of hijacking and spending the oil derivation money meant for the oil producing communities, adding that the money runs into billions of naira every month.

He called for the establishment of commissions that will receive and disburse the oil derivation money directly to the oil producing host communities.