The joint committee of the National Assembly set up to harmonise the positions of the senate and House of Representative on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would today put those contentious clauses into voting today, with the aim of breaking the current deadlock between members of the committee.
The committee meeting in the last few days have ended in a deadlock, especially over the issue of 5 percent and 3 percent Host Community Fund.
According to sources that are privy to what transpired at the meetings of the committee, they said it was the North versus the South as the two opposing camps held to their guns and not ready to shift grounds.
Argument of the North was that enough provisions have been made for the Niger Delta through various interventions that the government has made in the region. Such interventions include Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), 13 percent derivations and others. The legislators from the south on the other hand are said to have maintained that the effect of oil exploration and production is too devastating and there is need for the government to give a paltry 3 percent to host communities.
Analysts within and outside the oil and gas industry have said that it 3 percent to Host Community Fund is too small given the level of pollution that has taken place in the Niger Delta.
Eddy Wikina, a former External Relation Manager with Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, said although he has not seen the final version of the PIB but he hopes the president will sign it into law.
“Good development but doesn’t eliminate all the issues and problems. There will still be agitation in the Niger Delta.”
Haven’t made this observation, how do we define host community? Will the 3% accrue to the family hosting facilities, village community or LGA? And 3% of what? Value of total production or declared profits? How will communities staff the Trust Fund managers? Where do we see Ogoni benefits in the context of present situation of no operations? Is 3% an incentive to restart operations or too meager to bother?”
“Recall PIB started with 10%, but now reduced to 3%. Is this fair and acceptable, when Eleme communities get 7.5% from Indorama? Still a lot of muddy waters to cross.
The centre of the warfare is just shifting from Federal Government to community stage. But perhaps they can start with this 3% and test it’s efficacy in addressing the Niger Delta problems with operators.