To promote understanding of the Petroleum Industry Act in oil-bearing communities and effective implementation of the law, the National Orientation Agency has engaged stakeholders.
The Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, disclosed this after a stakeholders’ interactive session on the act themed ‘What’s in it for the Community and the Economy?’ in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
In a statement issued by NOA Assistant Director of Press, Paul Odenyi, the DG said the PIA, like any other law, “is subject to amendment” in the interest of greater economic development for host communities and the nation.
According to him, the PIA provides a framework for accelerated action for the development of host communities and seeks to eliminate uncertainties in the legal and regulatory processes in the petroleum industry.
The NOA boss, represented by the Rivers State Director, Young Ayotamuno, observed, “As it is today, oil communities have the vehicles of the federal budget, the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the state government budget and the newly-introduced Host Communities Development Trust Fund to seek the development of their areas.”
He said some of the funds would come directly to oil-bearing communities through the NDDC and the HCDTF, “which has become operational under the PIA,” urging host communities to pay attention to expert interpretations of the provisions of the new law, to take full advantage of it.
The Paramount Ruler of Eastern Obolo, HRM Harry John, in his remarks, praised the passage of the PIA after many years of legislation, noting that President Muhammadu Buhari had no ill intentions for oil-bearing communities in signing the act, as some imagine. He, therefore, called on Niger Deltans to avoid making the PIA a basis for conflict in the region and made case for an upward review from the three per cent to five per cent of operating expenses of oil firms for the HCDTF.
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, observed that Nigeria, in the last 10 years, lost an estimated $50bn worth of investments as a result of non-passage of the PIA, leading to stagnation in the petroleum industry.
He noted, however, that despite of the laudable provisions of the PIA, the delivery of its inherent benefits remain subject to the effective implementation and the crucial role of host communities towards the actualisation of this goal.
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