The National Assembly plans to increase the contributions of oil companies to host communities by 100%, if the comments of Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, are anything to go by.
Commenting on the Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the National Assembly, Omo-Agege, who hosted a delegation of Oil and Gas Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSCON) in Abuja, led by elder statesman, Chief (Dr ) Wellington Okrika,
argued that the annual contribution of 2.5 per cent actual operating expenditure by oil companies to the Host Community Development Trust Fund would be increased to, at least, 5 per cent.
He also reiterated his call at the Second Reading of the bill on the floor of the Senate where he made a case for gas flaring penalties to be paid to the host communities and not the Federation Account.
He pointed out that the funds would be used to ameliorate the living conditions in Niger Delta communities, as they remain the ones that bear the burden of environmental degradation from the oil industry.
“That I come from the oil bearing communities is one of the reasons why I am DSP today given our contribution to the economy of the country. It is only natural that I champion anything that would promote the interest of the people of the Niger Delta.
“The PIB is a very crucial bill. If properly handled it would bring a lot of Foreign Direct Investments into the oil economy. This is the best time to take advantage of the oil we have and the best way to do so it to encourage FDIs and this can only be achieved when the Niger Delta is peaceful. That is why I am suing for peace.
“Let the Niger Delta Region begin to look like the region that produces the wealth of the country. The Host Community component of the PIB law is of utmost importance to us in the National Assembly and we believe it should be a win-win for all stakeholders. And so, we are determined to ensure that we have an improvement on what we have before. I am also confident that we have made good impression with our colleagues and we would get something favourable for the oil bearing communities.
“I also believe Gas Flaring Penalty cost should come to the Host Communities and I am sure we have impressed it on our colleagues to allow that to stay. That money shouldn’t go to the Federation Account but to the people whose environment are impacted by gas flaring”, he added.
The bill is currently before the Joint Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas for further legislative work.
Earlier, Chief Okrika, called on the Deputy President of the Senate to intervene in the issues brought before the Federal Government concerning the PIB, gas flaring, 13 percent derivation payment to the states instead of the oil bearing communities, the N98bn gas flare fund and the controversy surrounding the Pipeline Surveillance Contract.
He lauded the legislative interventions of the senator, adding that members were impressed with his contributions not only on issues concerning the Niger Delta but his general contributions on matters relating to national discourse.
Other members of the delegation include Dr Mike Emuh (National Chairman), Mrs. Josephine Odungide (National Women Leader), Princess Christy Ejeh, Anthony Oghenovo, Jonathan Osigho, Joy Richard and Ann Izi.