Oil communities in Bayelsa State under the aegis of Host Communities Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) have expressed concern over alleged neglect in 13 percent derivation revenue accruing to the state.
The group’s position was contained in an open letter to the state Governor Douye Diri.
The open letter signed by Samson Dabbey HOSTCOM Bayelsa chapter chairman, followed an expanded meeting attended by key oil and gas stakeholders, Bayelsa people, and friends of the state.
Members of the Bayelsa Elders Council were also at the expanded meeting where the group expressed regret and disappointment over the abject neglect of oil-rich communities in the state in spite of efforts by HOSTCOM to table the matter in a dialogue with the state government.
The letter pointed out that HOSTOM remained a peace-driven advocacy organization that bears the burden of the downtrodden and people suffering in silence in the oil-producing communities in the state.
The letter reads in part: “We are aware that it was to compensate for such woes suffered by oil communities that justify the oil derivation principle encapsulated by the constitution.
“Section 162, Sub-Section (2) of the 1999 Constitution explicitly states that the 13 percent Derivation Fund is for the exclusive use of oil/gas producing communities.
“This is as compensation for loss of fishing rights and productive farmlands as a result of oil and gas exploration and production activities.”
HOSTCOM regretted that it had been rebuffed by Diri’s aides, commissioners and the leadership of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly who pledged but failed to mediate in the issue.
Dabbey stated that following several letters to the governor, which have not been replied to, they were left with no option than to resort to an open letter and to invoke the Freedom of Information Act to demand accountability.
“In line with the FOI Act, we demand a detailed account of how the 13 percent that had accrued to the state is spent, vis-a-vis its impact in the oil and gas producing communities in the state.
“We make bold to state that the misapplication of the 13 percent Derivation Fund that has accrued to the state from successive administrations to date is unacceptable.
“The infrastructural development of the oil and gas producing communities are being arrested and the suffering of the people has continued to be unattended to, up till this moment,” HOSTCOM stated.
The group noted that the solution to the anomaly is the establishment of the Bayelsa State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (BASOPADEC).
According to HOSTCOM, the establishment of BASOPADEC will halt misapplication of the fund and have the injustice corrected in line with Section 162, Sub-Section 2 of the 1999 Constitution.
The group informed the governor that they have officially complained in writing to President Bola Tinubu to withhold the monthly 13 percent derivation revenue from September this year.
The group urged Tinubu to withhold the derivation revenue pending the institutionalisation of the governance framework for judicious deployment of the funds.
“We are constrained to resorting to this constitutional and peaceful approach collectively and in good faith as an advocacy organisation in furtherance of our Article of Faith.
“This is to pursue the course of the down-trodden host communities whose right to the 13 percent Derivation Fund has been denied them for so long in Bayelsa State.
“Leadership is a sacred trust and transparency, accountability and selflessness is the hallmark which we seek for in all our leaders in Bayelsa State,” HOSTCOM said.