•Sylva urges agitators to accept 2.5% fund in PIB
By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Host communities in the nine oil-producing states have called for the scrapping of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This is just as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, urged the host communities to accept the 2.5 per cent fund provided in the revised Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), instead of insisting on 10 per cent.
The National President of the Oil Host Communities (HOSTCOM), Chief Benjamin Tams, said yesterday at the end of the two-day public hearing on the revised 2020 PIB that all the intervention agencies established by the federal government for the development of oil host communities had not made much impact on the development of the communities.
He cited the NDDC, which he described as a cesspool of corruption, as the least impactful.
He said: “What government is supposed to add to the new PIB is scrapping of NDDC and the establishment of Oil Host Communities Commission, which will in practical terms, be very responsive to the development needs of the various host communities.”
Tams insisted that 2.5 per cent proposed in the new PIB is unacceptable to the host communities.
He said: “What we want is 10 per cent equity remittance from the various oil firms to respective host communities as proposed in the PIB considered in the 7th National Assembly but not assented to.
“It is even very annoying that having reduced the 10 per cent to five per cent in the last bill considered by the eighth National Assembly, it is further slashed to 2.5 per cent in the current bill.
“This is not acceptable to us as host communities of the oil-producing firms. The 10 per cent earlier proposed must be worked upon if the bill is to be acceptable to the various communities bearing the brunt.”
Tams, in an earlier presentation, had said that it would be absurd and economically illogical to deprive “HostCom” the right to equity shareholding in both the establishment of the NNPC Limited, the commission, the authority and the boards.
The host communities added that “this quest to take over complete control of all our national assets by a very unpatriotic few has to stop”.
Sylva, however, said the 2.5 per cent proposed for the host communities in the new bill is fair.
“I speak advisably as a member of the host community myself. If you have to look at it properly, you will see that 10 per cent of profit is different from 10 per cent of the operation cost from the various oil firms.
“Before now, you had the provision of 10 per cent of profit and profit means that if I don’t declare it, you don’t have anything. I can decide to say 100 per cent of profit and not declare any profit, so you don’t get anything.
“But in this case, it’s 2.5 per cent of the OPEX. So, at the end of the year, you look at your operating cost and take 2.5 per cent of that cost to the budget of the next year. As far as we are concerned, we have made a very fair proposal. Fair to the host communities, to the country and to the oil companies,” he stated.
He added that provisions made in the bill are just proposals before the National Assembly and until they are passed before there can be an effective discussion on them.