…Urge FG to carry stakeholders along
As discussion on oil divestment is in top gear in the Niger Delta, Civil Society Organisations have expressed worries over the process by the Federal Government and the International Oil Companies.
This was behind the recent launch of a document ‘Guiding Principles on the divestment of IOCs’ who wish to exit from the Niger Delta.
The programme was held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
In his opening remark at the event, the Executive Director of Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), Adam Heal maintained that the just transition in the Niger Delta must be done holistically, noting that just and fair transition should be done collectively where the communities, oil companies and the government will be on the same page.
Heal explained that the launch was done to monitor the process on how oil can be divested and the legacy they left behind properly managed, especially oil spills and decommissioning of their equipment since the process needs transparency and inclusiveness.
In an interview shortly after the event, the Country Director, Stakeholder Democracy Network, a non- governmental organisation, Florence Ibok Abasi stated that launching of the Principles was to guide the process to have a framework for divestment because oil companies are leaving Nigeria without addressing oil pollution issues in the communities and that some of the new companies taking over are not qualified to clean up the pollution.
She expressed concern over the decommissioning process of the facilities because most of the oil pipelines are outdated and corrosive.
The SDN boss further tasked the media to be part of the campaign by doing an indebt investigation of the divestment in the Niger Delta.
“We are looking for a clean energy,” she said, but asked where is the infrastructure in Nigeria for renewable energy, that is why SDN is part of the process.
Earlier, Prof. Rick Steiner who conducted the research for the Principles made certain recommendations that will help to monitor and evaluate the divestment of oil companies in Niger Delta by the media, CSOs and the communities.
Some of the the recommendations are that the decommission process should be transparent, that host communities should be involved since they are worried for the oil well heads, flow stations and the pipelines.
Other Principles include that all applications for divestment should include full environmental evaluation report and that all oil industry divestment applications should be published within 90 days prior to the submission to the Federal Government.
Furthermore, all divestment applications should outline a plan to properly decommission and abandon infrastructure as required by Petroleum Industry Acts (PIA). That the Federal Government should provide to the public, National Assembly, State Government an annual summary of all divestments proposed, approved or declined.
Recall that over 30 divestments have already taken place and communities were not particularly involved as they should have equity participation in the new oil deals in Nigeria according to Michael Uzoigwe, who delivered a presentation on “National Principles for Responsible Oil Industry Divestment.”
Participants observed that there seemed to be lack of transparency and accountability on the side of the Federal Government on the divestment of oil operations as stipulated by the PIA.
During the question and answer sessions, some panelists admitted that some of the oil companies seem to be so powerful that they are refusing to do the right thing while the Federal Government is also not holding them accountable.
It was further disclosed that the much talk about divestment is not clear as some International Oil Companies claiming to divest are acquiring more new oil wells in the communities they abandoned.