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Host Communities Spit Fire…As Minister Sits On Approved Fund

Crisis looms in the volatile Niger Delta region as the Host communities of Nigeria, producing Oil and Gas (HostCom) appears ready to confront the minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Deziami Allison-Madueke over the gas flaring penalty money accrued to them.
In a press briefing in Port Harcourt, the chairman of the HOSTCOM, Chief (Engr.) Appolos Amadi said despite assurance by the presidency to release this accumulated funds to the suffering beneficiaries, the minister is now their stumbling block.
The group appealed to well-meaning Nigerians and indeed stakeholders to prevail on her to act fast on the file now lying on her table in view of the prevalent circumstances as it relates to environmental degradation suffered by the Niger Delta people and the recent crises which was believed to be a resultant effect of the neglect of the region.
The HOSTCOM chairman explained the processes they have passed through before arriving at the apparent logjam. He disclosed that in reply to the group’s letter, the presidency had requested the ministries of finance, petroleum, Resources, DPR and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to examine the issues raised in the said letter.
The Petroleum Resources Ministries invited the others including the HOSTCOM for a meeting after which a committee was set up to examine the issues further and submit a report to the stakeholders for consideration and approval. The report, he said was positive but that the joy of the Host communities was short-lived as the minister sat on the file perhaps for personal reasons since the past six months.
“Not even the intervention of the Niger Delta Affairs minister, Chief Godswill Orubebe would sway the decision of Mrs. Allison Madueke,” the chairman lamented.
You would recalled that all efforts by successive governments to stop gas flaring in the country since 1957 due to its hazardous effect on its immediate environment have not yielded any positive result.
The government then decided to enact the associated gas Re-injection Act which was designed to force the oil companies to invest in facilities that will lead to termination of Gas flaring in the region with an alternative clause of payment of fines in the case of failure.
The oil companies, he disclosed further appears to prefer the fine payment as being cheaper compared to the investment in the re-injection facilities.
The Niger Delta people too have painfully come to the conclusion that it would be better to collect the accrued compensation and oil other future funds through their community based registered organization known as HOST COMMUNITIES OF NIGERIA, PRODUCING OIL AND GAS (HOSTCOM) as an umbrella body representing the interests of all hosts, satellites and impacted communities. Hon. Amadi explained that the body has a national executive at its apex drawn from all the oil producing states with state and LG chapters adding that the traditional rulers from all the oil mineral producing communities of Niger Delta region are members with a national consultant who directs the technical/professional aspect.
The group also used the opportunity to urge the Rivers State Government and the state House of Assembly to enact a bill that will establish the Rivers State Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (RISOPADE) as is obtainable in other states of the Niger Delta region, appealing that Rivers State should have such commission to cater for the suffering and deprived people of the oil and gas host communities as a major oil mineral producing state. ###

Joe Kalu

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