Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, executive director, Spaces for Change, S4C, has disclosed that until the implementation of Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, communities did not get any significant benefits from their natural resources.
At the just-concluded two-day National Extractives Dialogue, NED2023, Host Community Development Trusts, which had “Catalysts for Equitable Benefit-Sharing and Sustainable Prosperity for All” as its theme in Owerri, Imo State.
Ibezim-Ohaeri, “Several communities in Nigeria are endowed with mineral resources. In these communities, the earth bequeaths massive treasures—gold, ore, tin, limestone, lead, zinc, barite, coal, copper, crude, diamond, crude oil and natural gas—that promise prosperity beyond imagination.
For several years, these communities have watched as towering rigs and other mechanical installations rose like giants on their horizon; as pipelines transporting mineral resources crisscrossed their fields, and as trucks laden with crude extracted from their backyard rumbled through their streets.”
In a statement she noted that: “Native lands, forests, mangroves, trees, rivers and traditional livelihoods shivered under the heavy might of mineral resource extraction while communities raged and begged for a share of the cake baked from the natural resource endowments from mother earth.”
The Nigerian government signed into law the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in August 2021. Chapter 3 of that Act demanded the creation of the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs). Under Section 240 of the Act, the benefits of natural resources must now flow back to the communities where they came from.
Extractive corporations—whether indigenous or international—are now required to contribute 3 percent of their actual operating expenditure to the Host Community Development Trusts.
The Act made new arrangements for fostering sustainable prosperity within the host communities; providing direct social and economic benefits from petroleum operations to the host communities; and determined to enhance peaceful and harmonious co-existence between extractive corporations and their host communities.
This means that host communities now have the right to benefit from natural resources tapped from their backyard.
She these benefits are no longer acts of corporate benevolence, but an entitlement to partake in the design, content and structure of their own development, and most importantly, participate in the governance and administration of petroleum resources through their membership of either the Board of Trustees, the Management Committees or any of the advisory bodies created under the Act.
The PIA also gave birth to the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) entrusted with overseeing the implementation of HCDTs.
“What the PIA has simply done is to create the right of host communities to benefit from natural resources. It means that host communities have moved away from an era of charitable developmental assistance to a new era of entitlements and human rights.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, NEITI, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, said: “My presence in Owerri and at this event to support Spaces for Change is in furtherance of our partnership and collaboration with civil society organisations to deepen implementation of EITI at sub-national levels.”