Monarch Decries Impacts of Incessant Oil Exploration, Pollution on Host Communities
Julius Osaho in Yenagoa
Former Minister of State for Energy and the Traditional Ruler of Nembe Kingdom in Bayelsa State, King Edmound Daukoru has charged the leadership of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) to focus on drawing more attention to the issue of oil industry induced environmental pollution in the Niger Delta.
The monarch also decried the incessant cases of oil pollution in the region and its attendant negative impacts on the socio-economic lives of the host communities and pointed out that Ogoniland is not the only polluted area in the Niger Delta, as almost every part of the region was also affected.
Daukoru, who is a former Nigerian Minister of State for Energy and was Secretary General of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2006 and also the HOSTCOM Board of Trustees Chairman, stated this during the inauguration of the national elected executives officers of the body in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
He further charged the newly inaugurated executives to consolidate on the achievements so far recorded and continue to educate and enlighten members on their rights as most members are uneducated and unaware of their rights.
He said: “I have taken the troubles to read the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), there are host community issues but HOSTCOM is not mentioned by name at least not in the PIA itself.
“If oil well is found in the farm of a lonely farmer, how does that man defends his right? They say there is security in numbers only if he aligns with other people with similar problems that is what HOSTCOM is about.
“HOSTCOM is not a debt collector per say, HOSTCOM duties involves enlightening people as to their rights, maybe some things can only be settled by litigation in court, some may be settled by the authority or commission as the case maybe but to go from the village level to even a court room or to get a lawyer or valuer or to go to the regulator authorities is already a big tasks for small communities who do not have the means and enlightenment to know what their rights are, that is the gap I will personally like to see HOSTCOM fill and it is a huge task.
“The second thing you must do aside enlightenment is to ensure that remediation programmes are not taken for granted, it is not only Ogoni that has polluted soils it is happening everywhere in the Niger Delta, every year the farms harvest and the fish catch are getting smaller, where are
we heading to in another
In his speech, the National President of HOSTCOM, Chief Benjamin Tamaranebi, said HOSTCOM has become a strong and virile umbrella and the mouth piece of the vulnerable people of the oil and gas producing communities whose main objective is to have the federal and states governments to create political to develop the long neglected marginalized and deprived oil and gas producing communities.
He listed HOSTCOM’s major achievements to include the PIA, direct funding to host communities and the recognition of HOSTCOM by the government.
Tamaranebi said: “Before the formation of HOSTCOM, groups like TROMPCON, CDC and others have also played both the oil perspectives and significant roles at ensuring that there was a collective platform to access the companies operating in the Niger Delta region and the federal government.
“The main focus was to ensure that we continually mount pressure on both the Federal Government of Nigeria and the nine oil bearing States to create an oil producing areas development commission to manage part of the 13 per cent derivation to end intensive agitation for development commission in the region.
“To this effect Ondo, Delta, Edo, Abia and Imo States have established theirs. While Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Cross-River who are amongst the major players have refused to establish their commission till today thus keeping host communities without direction with our 13 per cent derivation spent without the communities’ involvement. We boldly call our state governments as matter of urgency to establish it.”
The national executive committee is led by Chief Benjamin Tamaraneri, as the National President, Mr Ibinabobo Watson, as Deputy President, Dr Joshua Okie, Secretary, Princess Enyekit-Itan, Assistance Secretary,
Others are Prof. Ogugua Ikpeze, as Legal Advicer, Chief Emma Eyakagbe, Youth Leader, Mr. George Sele, Director of Strategic and Planning, among others, were inaugurated at the Cultural Centre Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital.
On his part, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa, advised multinationals in the oil and gas sector to transform flare gas into other sources of energy rather payment for remediation and compensate affected communities after polluting the ecosystem.
Diri, who was represented by Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Mr. Ebiyeri Jones, emphasised the need for multinationals to adhere to the template of the commission.
Also, King Bubraiye Dakolo, the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, urged the new exco to carry everybody along and work very serious for the people.
He said three per cent for host community would not be sufficient.