House Summons 14 Oil Firms as Host Communities Allege Marginalisation

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Adedayo Akinwale

House of Representatives has summoned 14 oil companies to appear before it next week Tuesday to give details of the agreements they had with their host communities.

The companies summoned by the House are: Seplat Oil, New Cross Oil, Pillar Oil, Sterling Oil Global, Ran Ocean Oil, Niger Delta Company, MD Western, Orion Oil, Eroton, Lee Engineering, Connoil, Aiteo and NPDC.

The House gave the directive yesterday when some representatives of the oil companies and the host communities appeared before the joint Committee on Treaties, Protocols Agreements and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) at a public hearing on the “Holistic Review of All Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding Between Oil Companies in Nigeria and Host Communities.”

The co-chair of the joint committee, Hon. Nicholas Ossai, said the public hearing was called to fashion out ways of fostering peace between the oil companies and their host communities.

According to him, “They (oil companies) have disrespected the House of Representatives for not appearing even last week and this week. This committee will not fail to deal with the issue squarely.”

Earlier, the host communities said despite the fact that major oil companies like Shell BP, AGIP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, among others had operated for years in the communities, there were no benefits to cushion the effects of the hazards of the oil explorations.

The communities, who had representatives from Abia, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, and other Niger Delta states, lamented that they lack drinking water, motorable roads and health centres and also denied benefitting from the employment and scholarship schemes of the oil companies.

Speaking, the representative of Okioma community from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Pastor Igiri Samuel, said there were no projects in his
area.

He stated: “The last MoU was signed in 2009. No other projects; only intervention projects, extension of light. In terms of employment, it is zero. From 1989 till date, nobody has been employed.”

Also, Chief Isaiah Young Dede from Nembe Kingdom of Bayelsa State also decried the action of AGIP, adding that there were 123 oil wells located in his area, noting that Agip only signed one document and has not been implemented it.

On his part, the Secretary of Omoba, Mr. Loveday Okere, who represented 12 communities that made up Etche 2 Clusters in Rivers State told the committee that SPDC had been operating in the community since 1950s with no projects on the ground for the benefits of the people.

He said the company imposed the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) it signed with them, while also lamenting that they defaulted in many areas of its provisions.

Okere noted: “They prepared and lord it on the community. If you refuse, they rather shut down the clusters. We need to apply to get this document. For a cluster of nine with 69 oil communities, N110 million is shared amongst the communities. When you put all these, you know what is accruable is minimal.”

However, the General Manager, Policy, Government/Public Affairs, Chevron Oil company, Mr. Esimaje Brikin, said the company involved the communities through the GMoU to determine their needs.

Also, Total Exploration oil represented by the Managing Director, Energia Leslie, said his firm always carried its host communities along.