Mr. Mitee has urged civil society groups to do a lot more to unravel the dimensions of the PIB.
The proposed Host Community Fund in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, will succeed in creating another bureaucracy to short-change the people in the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta, an Ogoni leader and Chairman of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Board, Ledum Mitee, has said.
Mr. Mitee, who was speaking on the PIB at an interactive forum organised by Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in Abuja on Tuesday, said he did not believe the Niger Delta question would be best answered with the creation of a new bureaucracy to manage Host Community Fund as proposed in the bill.
“I don’t agree with the proposal to establish the Host Community Fund,” Mr. Mitee said. “I do not think there is the need to create another bureaucracy within the fund to manage the 10 per cent profit of the oil companies operating in the region.”
According to Mr. Mitee, like other bureaucracies that have been created in the oil producing areas in the past, the intended beneficiaries have always been left un-catered for. He pointed out that the money should be made available directly to the host community without any bureaucracy.
Mr. Mitee urged civil society groups to do a lot more to unravel the dimensions of the PIB. He noted a few hurdles delaying the passage of the proposed law, including the need to focus more on the implications of the fiscal regime to be established with the PIB- in particular, the reaction of international oil companies, IOCs, if their earnings are reduced.
The NEITI board chairman also cautioned against the undue politicisation of some of the provisions in the bill, saying this would likely defeat the objective of carrying out the review of the old law.
The Chairman, United Action for Democracy, UAD, Jaiye Gaskia, in his contribution, demanded to know what institution in the host community would receive the fund or the institution that would govern it. He pointed out that PIB has thrown up the need for community governance as well as the need for consensus on the bill.
A member of the Board of NEITI, Faith Nwadishi, who is also the National Coordinator, Public-What-You-Pay, PWYP Nigeria, noted that though Nigeria and Norway began the oil industry journey about the same time, the latter is today reputed for best practices in the industry while the reverse is the case with Nigeria.
She said the right time to make amends, move the industry forward and support the effort to get the PIB passed to help establish fresh institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks for the country’s oil industry is now.
The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said there is a need for strategic intervention by CSOs devoid of divisions in order to see the all-important bill through to sustain the growth of the industry.
The moderator of the occasion, Jibrin Ibrahim, noted that there was a consensus about the importance of the bill. He added that that there were attempts to torpedo the bill, a development that makes the need for strategic engagement of the stakeholders, especially national assembly members, very crucial.