PIB: South-South govs demand 10% as host community fund

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Dennis Naku, Port Harcourt

GOVERNORS of the South-South states have demanded an upward review of the provision of 2.5 per cent as host community trust fund in the Petroleum Industry Bill to 10 per cent in the best interest of oil communities and the nation.

This was as the governors advised the President, Major General Mohammadu Buhari (retd.) that in the absence of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, funds for the agency, beyond the payment of salaries, should be put in an escrow account until the board was constituted.

The Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum and Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, stated this at the end of the forum’s meeting at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Monday night.

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“We took up the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill which is already before the House and having compared notes with ourselves, we are of the view that while we welcome the Host Community Trust Fund, we do believe that the 2.5 per cent that is appropriated in that bill for the purpose of host community fund is inadequate.

“We have discussed with our people and collectively as leaders of the people in our various states and as leaders standing in on behalf of our people; we urge that the National Assembly should increase the provision in the host community fund from 2.5 per cent to 10 per cent in the best interest of our communities, in the best interest of our nation,” Okowa stated.

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The governors maintained that the communities have a role to play in the surveillance of the nation’s oil facilities and pipeline network.

They expressed the belief that if the communities felt satisfied with the provision of funds for them in the PIB, they were more likely going to be watchdog on behalf of the Federal Government, the states and oil companies.

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Present at the meeting were Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike; the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; his Bayelsa State counterpart, Senator Douye Diri and the Deputy Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Mr Moses Ekpo, who represented Governor Udom Emmanuel.

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