By KUFRE ETUK
Oil Producing Communities in Akwa Ibom State have decried undue government interference and influence as major reason for underdevelopment of communities by International Oil Companies, IOCs.
The representatives of oil producing communities wondered why oil companies would be paying taxes to state government but neglect their social corporate responsibility to host communities and at the same time directing communities to meet government for any infrastructural development.
Stakeholders from oil producing communities raised the alarm during one day capacity building for post PIA implementation for Host communities in Akwa Ibom State on Thursday 31st March, 2022 in Uyo organized by Policy Alert and Accountability Lab.
Earlier in his speech, Mr. Friday Odeh- Country Director, Accountability Lab Nigeria appreciated participants for attending the stakeholders’ meeting.
He explained that the event was all about getting critical stakeholders from oil producing communities aquatinted with Petroleum Industry Act and what is expected of them in order to get their benefits.
Speaking, the Executive Director Policy Alert Mr. Tijah Bolton-Akpan urged the communities to take up the responsibility of setting Management Committee as stipulated by the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
“It behooves on the communities to act on the issue of PIA. If we fail it therefore means that you have failed.”
He warned them against divide and rule strategy of oil companies and urged them to be organized so as not to open flanks for oil companies to exploit them.
Also speaking, Mr. Mfon Gabriel from Policy Alert, recalled different amounts collected by South South governors as 13 percent derivation fund which he said are meant for the development of oil producing communities.
He said in spite huge amount of money received by states, oil producing communities are left underdeveloped, adding that PIA provides ample opportunity for oil producing communities to develop their areas.
Another presenter, Mr. Faith Paulinus recalled that for decades, Oil Producing Communities in Niger Delta have been ripped off socially and economically with enormous environmental injustices followed by agitations for equitable distribution of receipts from Oil and Gas with Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution serving as an answer.
He frowned at indiscriminate spending by governors of Niger Delta states without serving for the future.
“All Niger Delta States have enacted the FRL, yet the implementation process looks weak. Very few of these states laws have stabilization fund component and none has a future serving component that can compel the states to put away some of the expected funds for future use, giving state government an opportunity to exploit this window to channel the funds to immediate spending thereby not adhering to fiscal rules.” Faith said.
Highpoint of the event was group discussion were participants proferred and presented areas of stemming marginalisation of host communities by oil companies.