Communities in Ibeno Local Council of Akwa Ibom have demanded for N98 Billion from the Federal Government being penalties for gas flared by oil companies operating in the area.
This is even as stakeholders in the state have expressed reservations in some provisions of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, passed eight years ago but yet to be accented to by President Muhammadu Buhari but which is currently passing through amendment by stakeholders in the Niger Delta.
Paramount Ruler of Ibeno Chief Effiong Achianga told a town hall meeting with the visiting National Assembly Joint Committee on PIB in Uyo yesterday that oil communities are yet to benefit from the 13% oil derivation to states as governors in the region have arrogated the fund to themselves.
“But the 13% derivation fund is meant for oil bearing communities and not the state but unfortunately these oil communities have most times been marginalized even on money that is meant to be spent on them.” Achianga said.
The Royal Father also expressed reservations over the failure of several states in the Niger Delta including Akwa Ibom to establish the oil minerals producing development commission for oil bearing and impacted communities and called for Federal Government intervention.
Other areas for amendment in the bill as recommended by stakeholders including host communities of Ibeno and Eastern Obollo, the state Assembly and the state government also include the technical return of offshore/onshore oil dichotomy, increase in the stake of host communities in NNPC subsidiaries and in the appointment of members into the Host Community Trust Fund Board of Trustees and Management Committees.
Other concerns raised by stakeholders include payment by host communities for damages to oil facilities during crisis, relocation of oil companies head offfices to their base of operations and non recognition of Oron communities as oil bearing communities.
Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Sabo Naduku in an opening remark regretted that the Bill is yet to be implemented several years after it was passed but expressed the commitment of the the National Assembly towards it’s realization.
Naduku also reminded stakeholders on the dwindling reliance on petroleum as a source of energy even as Nigeria has continued to lose her monopoly for production of oil in the West African region.
State commissioner for power and petroleum development Dr John Etim in a welcome address regretted that the bill has not been able to be signed into law due to political considerations while instead of being useful has left the industry in a sorry state.
“But the state is keen on making contributions to the success and passage of the bill. During the public hearing at the National Assembly recently the state presented a memorandum that concentrated on three basic areas of Environmental Management, Host Community Development and Ownership of the various Incorporated Institutions that the Bill proposes to establish.
“It is also sad to observe that State Governments are excluded from the process of appointing members into the various committees and institutions the Bill intends to establish.” Etim explained.