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Category Archives: Community Voices

High Chief Eric Barizah Dooh- Goi community, Gokana LGA Rivers State

Several  bills has been heard by the Nigerian parliament,  but one thing that we have come to know is that to make laws is easy but to implement them is the biggest problem we have in Nigeria. If they are passing any bill in respect to the petroleum exploration in this Nigeria, it should be a bill that will be implemented, if not I don’t see any need  presenting a bill before the house as it is not necessary. If the PIGB can be profit driven, not the type that is being done in Abuja, but profit driven at the local level. Those people at the local level at the ones who own the resources beneath the soil, but government using the tactics of land use acts to deprive us of our rights. So if it is profit driven and the local people stand to benefit then yes I will support that pact.

The profit that is gotten for the oil exploration should not be meant for the oil companies  and government alone but should trickle down to the local communities   for their development , Because when the spills occur, the oil companies takes their own margin of the profit  to their own countries and the gives the federal government its own share and  they all forget to clean the mess they have done here, this is not obtainable in the countries where these oil companies come from. So the PIGB should be able to alleviate the sufferings of the people and must be a people’s governance bill.

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Chief St Emma PII- Bodo City, Gokana LGA, Rivers State.

My take on this present Petroleum industry Governance bill is that we in the communities are the ones feeling the impact of the oil exploration as it happens. It’s important that we benefit from this and this can happen by putting in place proper structures that can manage the resources that will come to local communities because if there is not proper structure, it will lead to communal violence.

There should also make sure that whatever structure they are thinking of putting in place, they should not forget to involve the youths, the women and other community stakeholders.  Emphasis should be on capacity building for women, youths and there should community development so that the community can benefit and these benefits can come in the form of capacity building and structural building. It is only when they do that that the community will be relieved or happy about what is put into the PIGB.

After all the spill and the problems after the spill, it’s  the communities  that suffers it, so there should set up a trust board or a trust council that will care of the aftermath of the spill so that we can have a clean environment  that we can live in and leave for our children too. Within the structure to be set up, there must be people of transparent and accountable nature there.

We should be able to control 25% and not 10%. It should be increased to 25%. We are seeking for resource control, the federal government should allow us control our resources and we pay tax to them. Are we being taken for granted because we are minority? If we control our resources and we pay them tax, we will be able to manage our ecological funds  and  manage the environment. Therefore, this is the time to act and do the needful and do what is right in this Petroleum governance industry bill.

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Mrs. Warder Ayibakuro, Women Leader, Ikarama Community

Actually I have been privileged to participate in two events organised by ERA/FoEN on the current PIB. As a mother and as a leader, I am not happy. To my on understanding, they have removed the 10% host communities were hoping to get as stakeholders. It seems they are tying us; trying to bind the people on whose land they are taking the crude oil/gas without minding that our mean sources of livelihood [fishing and farming] are highly compromised by the oil industry operations in our environment. We have been suffering all kinds of illnesses, including skin problems as a result of spills and as the facilities are sited close to residents. We have no benefits, just suffering in silence in the face of all these oil industry induced livelihood and health problems. They ought to consider training our children; rather they are talking about removing the host communities 10% from the PIB. As a mother, grandmother and community leader; I am not in support of that. I am speaking on behalf of the women of this community, that we are not pleased with the attempt to remove the Host community 10%. In my own view, it should rather be increased to 20%. And, this money should not pass through any arm of government or board; it should come directly to the communities; so that we don’t experience the kind of things we are hearing about some Nigerians running away with monies meant to pay pensioners.

What kind of PIB do you suggest?

Let the PIB increase the community funds to 20% and it should be sent directly to communities concerned so that the communities can utilise it in ways that will address their needs. I would also want to see a PIB at the end of the day which does not infringe on the freedom of movement of members of host communities simply because oil facilities are within their environment. This is where I am concerned about the aspect talking about six months imprisonment or N5million fine for anyone found guilty on issues relating to oil facilities and oil production. We should have the right to approach whoever is in our land and know what their mission is and if things are not in our favour; we should not be denied our freedom to resist. That section is a threat to our freedom of movement and it should be removed; because community people could be accused wrongly by strangers coming to operate in our land. It seems the Crude oil is a curse now to us and if others can exchange it with us and give us peace; I will prefer that. It is giving us problem; it was a blessing from God to us, but giving us problem now. They have turned it into a curse.

Issues relating to the education of our children from primary school to tertiary levels should be considered in the PIB; at least ten children annually. In the same way, women should be carried along in the scheme of things; women are being neglected in our communities. So, the rights of women, as critical stakeholders, should be captured in the PIB. Like I said earlier, I will want them to remove the section that talked about arresting, fines or imprisonment of persons found culpable on oil production obstruction related offence because; the pipelines criss-cross our environment and we often pass through such areas to and fro our farms, lakes, ponds and other locations. We do not want to be unnecessarily accused and sent to jail. For instance, due to my being vocal in advocating for the rights of my people; I could be accused of going to tamper with oil facilities in our environment; even though as a woman I cannot do that. But because my accusers might have strong connections and in order to silence me; they might succeed in sending me to prison. Where will I get N5million to free myself? They should remove that from the PIB. It is a law that is trying to restrict our movement within our own environment.

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Chief Roman Orukali, Paramount Ruler, Kalaba Community, Bayelsa State

To my understanding, the current form of the PIB is not in anyway, in favour of the owners of the Crude oil. By removing the 10% in the initial PIB, it means they are denying us of our rights. There have been several oil spills that occurred at the wellheads and along the pipelines. And these spills adversely affect the communities; with no benefits to the impacted communities. The removal of the 10% meant for host communities means that things will deteriorate and; where will help come from? Instead of removing the 10% host communities’ fund; I would rather advocate for the percentage to be increased in the PIB before its passage into law. There is no way we will fold our hands to see this bill passed.  Another thing of grave concern is the area which talked about arrest of anyone who happens to interfere with oil production and if found guilty; the person will be either fined N5million or six months imprisonment. That is very unfair because; they fail to take into consideration that members of host community have the right to express themselves when things are not going on well. We have freedom of speech and, is this PIB trying to gag us? Does it mean that whatever oil companies do in our environment we should just keep quiet and watch them? If our voices are not taken seriously, then we will resort to other necessary actions to express our disapproval by approaching whoever/whatever is in our environment. And, this shouldn’t lead to arrest, detention and payment of fines and, we should not be embarrassed. These are some of the reasons we are saying no to the PIB in its present form.

How would you want the PIB to be?… When we look back, we can see that Crude oil is not the first in terms of resources this country has dealt with. We had Cocoa, Groundnut and Palm oil. And, the derivation was better in those days; why is that of crude oil different? I would want to see a PIB which allow those on whose land the resources are to control the resource and; if the Federal Government will not allow what I have suggested; then the Host Communities should be given 25% and this should be expressly state in the PIB. The development of our communities should also be part of the PIB. For instance in the year 2014 our community, Kalaba went into MOU with the Nigerian Agip Oil Company just to install a 2000 litres capacity water tank for the community. We signed that Memorandum Of Understanding since 2014, but up till today [3rd May, 2016] nothing has been done by Agip. And yet, owing to the company’s facility in our environment our only source of water is polluted. That is why I say removing the host community fund from the PIB tantamount to a slap to the entire host communities.

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Moses Seleowei, Ikarama Community, Bayelsa State

My name is Moses Seleowei, from Ikarama community and by the grace of God; our community is host to the Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC] and the Nigeria Agip Oil Company [NAOC]. One of the main reasons we are not pleased with the current form of the PIB is the idea of removing the 10% share of the Oil industry profit meant for host communities. That community share was viewed by we the community people are compensation for the suffering we are passing through daily and I see no reason why the Federal Government is making conscious efforts to remove it from the bill. When I was growing up as a child I discovered that our fathers used to fish in the lakes within our environment and with that, they trained us in school. But now that has been destroyed, those lakes are condemned by siltation occasioned by construction of oil pipelines and oil spills pollution. In that regard I am not pleased with the way the PIB is being considered for passage now. Removal of the 10% Host communities share would be a challenge to the communities and, I don’t think there would be a conducive environment for the oil companies to operate in the communities if the bill is passed the way it is. Another thing in the PIB which I think is wholly intended to benefit the Federal Government and oil companies is the six months imprisonment or fine of N5million for anyone found culpable in obstructing oil production. While one is not encouraging wilful destruction of oil facility or sabotage; the condition is too harsh, as no community person can afford to pay such fines. This is critical because the oil companies are fond of not applying due process when they come to our community environment and by the time some community persons will go and challenge them; this oppressive law would now be applied on community people who are trying to fight for their rights. To the best of my knowledge communities in the Niger Delta have been peaceful and; when you look well at this law you will find that it benefits the Federal Government and oil companies alone and the question is: where are the PEOPLE, where is our right and the voice of the people? They should look at that issue because I don’t think it is favourable to us; the host communities and the people of the Niger Delta.

Using NDDC,Niger Delta Ministry and the likes to deny host communities of the 10% is baseless because, if you look at the owners of Oil Blocks; how many people from Niger Delta own oil blocks? 99% of oil blocks are owned by Nigerians who are not from the Niger Delta; mostly from the North. Niger Deltans are excluded from the oil business. For me, I don’t agree with that argument; using NDDC, etc as reason to remove the 10%; it is not cogent at all.

What kind of PIB would you prefer?… For me, apart from the a PIB which has the Host communities as stakeholders and with the 10% meant for them; I would like to see a PIB which will take the issue of engagement of our community people in terms of employment by oil companies. It would surprise you to know that of all the years SPDC and NAOC have operated in our land; no individual from Ikarama is employed in these oil companies. Not that we don’t have qualified graduates to work in those companies, we have graduates in different disciplines. The PIB should address that level of marginalisation too. The PIB should also capture the need to ensure that some skills acquisition training for locals to enable them key into the oil industry or enable beneficiaries survive in the increasingly oil industry induced polluted environment. These are the kinds of things that will create an enabling environment for the Federal Government and oil companies to operate smoothly in the communities. Finally, the people of the Niger Delta should be given equal opportunity to own oil blocks; it shouldn’t be the prerogative of Mr. President to give to whomever he desires. The PIB should state how Niger Deltans will also benefit from owning oil blocks. Ordinarily, as a nation practicing Federalism; we ought to exploit resources in our environment and pay tax to the Federal Government. But now, it is the Federal Government that is taking everything and giving little to the states; this is not fair.

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