Nigeria’s Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio has said that the recent Presidential assent to the Petroleum Industry Bill, making it an Act, will bring to an end, decades of cheating of Niger Delta host communities by “big people” in government.
“The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), when implemented, is going to assuage the feelings of the people of the host communities because they never had half a percent when oil was discovered in 1956 in Olobri.”
Senator Akpabio, who spoke today, August 19, to newsmen at the Presidential villa, Abuja about the performances of his ministry, said that the Bill had dragged on for too long because of what those who have been benefiting from the wrong system to the detriment of the host communities.
“My prayer is that the people would see this as a major step. People are arguing about percentages, I am not interested in that. We would manage this 3% but the major thing is to use it well.
“Even the small percentage that used to come to the NDDC, at least, they did not utilize it well. I believe the host communities would list out their problems, come together in unity and justify this action of Mr president and this action of Nigerians.
“This one is going directly to the host communities. We will do a lot of sensitization from the ministry, visit the people.
“The problem of the host community fund is not the percentage neither is the problem money. But how the money will be utilized judiciously and the same time, in a way where this is no acrimony. I don’t want that will break or cause communal clashes.
“So, I believe strongly as a ministry that is responsible for the peace in the region, we will take interest in how certain decisions are made as to who is a host community and who are those that should manage the fund.
“The law would have provided for this but at the same time, human being must also assist in the law in such a way that there is no acrimony.”
The Minister insisted that what is important is not the percentage, saying that some communities could make do with any percentage so far it would enable them to do basic human needs, such as solar powered toilet, drinking water, water tankers supplying.
He said that now with the PIA, the communities would be able to do certain things for themselves without waiting on oil companies, the federal government or the state to do it for them.
“When we look at the Act and know the composition of those who should be in charge of the money, we will also make our inputs. And it should be mostly project based. It shouldn’t be like a normal contract. It should almost be like direct labour. It is a major leap forward.
“Today, majority of Niger Deltans are very happy that the government has decided to deal with the host communities directly. This one will touch their lives directly. I also know that some communities will fight but of course, it is expected. Most of those things would be settled.”