PIB: ‘Removal Of Petroleum Host Community Fund Dangerous’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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PIB: ‘Removal Of Petroleum Host Community Fund Dangerous’

Posted: Apr 6, 2016 at 6:59 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)



Members of House of Representatives and civil society organisations (CSOs) on Wednesday warned that any attempt to remove the Petroleum Host Community Fund (PHCF) in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the Senate would trigger crisis between oil companies and host communities.

The PIB is expected to be laid before the Senate and the House of Representatives on resumption from Easter recess next Tuesday.

Dr. Bukola Saraki, Senate President, had penultimate week assured Nigerians that both chambers would have the bill for consideration.

Hon. Uzonna Nkem-Abonta, chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, who spoke on the development, urged the Senate to align with the position of the House by jettisoning the move to abolish host community fund, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and other subsidiaries of NNPC in its new legislation.

Nkem-Abonta (PDP-Abia) in a chat with newsmen in Abuja, explained that the bill was meant to correct anomalies of the past but what the Senate is planning to do would compound the problems in the oil industry, which government and stakeholders are seeking to resolve.

“The Senate is being parochial in its proposal. Every law is made to correct a lacuna. Host community fund means a certain percentage of revenue generated from the exploratory activities of oil is retained for the development of the host community.

“So, when you take it out of the PIB, you are indirectly saying the host communities are not important. This is not right. Mind you the degradation of the environment is not peculiar to oil producing areas. If you go to Jos in Plateau State, there are still suffering from adverse effects of long period of mining activities,” he stated.

However, Hon. Jide Olatunbosun, member, House Committee on Appropriations, urged Nigerians to allow the debate to commence before criticising the Senate, adding that the National Assembly would do all in its powers to address years of underdevelopment of the oil communities.

Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor of Social Action, speaking on behalf of the CSOs, commended the resolve of the House of Representatives to ensure inclusive legislation and urged the Senate to follow suit to avert future crisis.

“The removal of Petroleum Host Community Fund (PHCF) by the Senate from the PIB (if true), is a very disappointing step by the Senate. This is a big let-down of the poor and long suffering teeming community men and women in the oil producing communities of Nigeria.

“It is both sad and most disappointing that the sufferings of these people have been lost on the Senate of the 8th Assembly which has demonstrated this much in this move. Host communities have longed for and waited patiently for this provision to become law and have followed the protracted processes of this bill.

“This move by the Senate is lacking in sensitivity, patriotism and statesmanship. The leadership of the Senate should immediately take responsibility and rise to the occasion and ensure the return of this provision into the PIB. Only this will douse the potential explosive tension brought about by this treacherous removal,” the CSOs said.