The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) has rejected the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which has being in the crucible 18 years before it was recently passed the National Assembly, for failing integrity test.
Recall that the Petroleum Industry Bill is a law that seeks to introduce far-reaching reforms in the Nigerian oil and gas industry which the previous administrations failed to pass into law due to lack of political will, variegated interests from different stakeholders as well as sectional interests.
The Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo in a press statement on Tuesday, described a paltry 3 per cent approved by the National Assembly for host Communities couched as the Host Communities Trust Fund is not only unacceptable, but constitutes an affront to the neglected rural poor Nigerians.
He recommended that the urged the National Assembly lawmakers to reconsider increase in the 3 per cent allocation to host Communities to 10 percent in order address many problems arising from unsustainable environmental practices including the destruction of livelihoods of the Niger Delta region for several decades.
The foremost human Rights defender also urge the National Assembly to harmonise the Bill and immediately divest the 30 percent allocation to frontier oil exploration and invest it in renewable energy development such as solar to provide improved energy access to the citizens given the deplorable state of the national grid.
While noting that the three percent allocation for host Communities is insufficient due to the ecological dislocation of the region which has culminated in appalling level of pollution of their agricultural land, fisheries and drinking water, thus exposing thousands of people to serious health risks.
Dr. Uyi Ojo, “wondered why members of the National Assembly would approve a paltry three percent for the host communities in the Host Communities Trust Fund, saying it’s way below bar, and constitutes an affront to the suffering rural Communities”.
According to him, The UNEP report estimated that it would take up to 30 years and an initial US$1 billion to clean up Ogoniland. We therefore insist that 10 percent should be considered by the National Assembly as the minimum for the host communities owing to the level of degradation they already suffered following the years of neglect by the oil companies and government.
Dr. Uyi Ojo also berated the federal government for still depending on crude oil as other nations are already considering a shift from dirty energy to cleaner sources of energy like renewable energy sources.
“The clause in relation to the communities paying for acts of vandalism and Civil unrest should be removed from the host Community development fund because this criminalizes the people from the outset.”
He also stated that the oil companies should not be allowed to take undue advantage of Nigeria and Nigerians but rather follow international best practices in dealing with the host Communities where her facilities are located.
Ojo emphasized that the host Communities in the region have faced serious neglect, marginalization and deprivation for too long even though the region produces the oil which generates revenue for the nation.