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PIB: Host communities want NDDC scrapped, replaced with HCDC

For not leaving up to the expectations of the Niger Delta people, the host communities of Nigeria in the region have called for the scrapping of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and replacing it with the Host Communities Development Commission (HCDC) in the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2020.

Benjamin Tamaranebi, president of the Host Communities of Nigeria, said the government had tried to ensure that these funds get to the host communities, but lamented that politicians and interest groups had been hijacking the funds meant for developing the region.

Tamaranebi stated this on the side-line of the two-day public hearing on PIB held at the National Assembly complex on Tuesday.

He frowned at the continuous reduction of the percentage from 10 percent to 2.5 percent being given to the host communities, saying the region was still in a deplorable state without basic social amenities.

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He argued that if these funds are given directly to the host communities, it would be channelled to the needs of the people, instead of being siphoned by a few individuals.

According to him, “The issue of percentage given to host communities for development is inadequate. In 2009, when the bill was first given to us, it was 10 percent. It was reduced by 50 percent in subsequent bill to 5 percent. And this time, it has also been reduced by another 50 percent, making it 2.5 percent. If this bill does not pass this time, I assure you, it may be further reduced by another 50 percent to 1.25 percent. As host communities, we will accept nothing less than 10 percent equity share so we can have a sense of belonging and treat the critical assets as our own for the betterment of Nigeria and the oil industry. The oil companies operate in our land.

“The government has tried to ensure that these funds get to the host communities, but it has not. The funds have been hijacked by political and interest groups. NDDC is there, Amnesty is there, 13 percent derivation is there; even late President Yar’adua created the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Are these intervention agencies doing significant jobs to the communities? These communities are still in a deplorable condition. No development, no light. You could imagine where they are pumping out their billions of dollar; those communities have no light, no health centre not to talk of hospitals.

“The gas flaring issue is another thing that kills our people slowly. So that is the issue we are raising. If these funds are directly given to host communities, every community knows what to do. If it is a school we need, we put up a school. But if these funds are left in the hands of politicians, they will siphon it just like what happened in the NDDC.

“If it is within my powers, I will scrap NDDC. It has been there for about 20 years and nothing of importance has been impacted to the communities. Scrap it and form host communities development commission. We want host communities to come in and have the basis than setting up intervention agencies. Let our people who trust, not government officials form the commission.

“We cannot hold heads of these intervention agencies responsible because we did not appoint them. If I appointed you and you misbehave or underperform, I have the right to withdraw you and punish you.”

Speaking to Businessday, Ken Henshaw, the executive director of ‘ We the People’, a non-governmental organisation, representing several civil society organisations in the region, faulted the idea of submitting reports by some stakeholders without making presentations at the public hearing.

Henshaw kicked against the governance structure of the bill where no member from the host communities was appointed into the board of trustees and to the management committee.

The executive director said it was wrong to deny the host communities their benefits because of oil sabotage, adding that the responsibility of securing oil and gas pipelines cannot be left to host communities.

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