The South-South caucus in the House of Representatives is demanding for the host communities in the oil and gas industry to granted equity stake to participate in the exploitation and development of the hydrocarbon resources in their domains.
The demand was part of the resolutions reached at the end of the three days retreat of the caucus on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital from March 11 to 13, 2021.
Discussion during the retreat focused on issues affecting the interest of the host communities in the oil and gas communities as part of efforts to find a lasting solution to the challenge of restiveness and crisis in the oil-producing areas.
Over the years, the issue of the absence of proper accommodation for the communities hosting operations of the oil and gas industry was identified as one of the key factors responsible for the crisis in Nigeria, as the people have always companied of being denied a sense of belonging in the industry.
After deliberations on the agenda of the meeting, the caucus resolved to underscore the need for a clear definition of oil industry facilities and assets that qualify the criteria for “host communities”.
Apart from the host communities being granted equity participation in the oil and gas industry business, the lawmakers called for the consolidation of all environmental laws and regulations in the oil and gas industry.
Also, the lawmakers want the funding of the Host Community Development Trusts to be left at 10 percent of total industry operating expenditure (OPEX) of companies for the preceding year.
Other proposals they would want to be included in the PIB include unbundling and privatization of aspects of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); standardization of beneficiation of host communities of all mineral resources for sustainable development across the country.
The lawmakers also want the government to ensure the industry was operated in line with contract transparency and accountability as a global best practice, while the headquarters of oil majors should be relocated to their areas of operations.
The retreat, which had a plenary session, was declared open by the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Moses Ekpo, who represented the Governor, Udom Emmanuel.
The Chairman of the Caucus and Executive Director of OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Oke Epia, in his welcome remarks, urged members to proffer solutions that would help maintain a peaceful operating environment in the Niger Delta region.
The meeting was attended by the Deputy Majority leader of the House, Peter Akpatason; minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu and a representative of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the secretary of the caucus, Chinyere Igwe.
During technical sessions, presentations were made by the former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, Joseph Nwakwue and Nduka Ikeyi.