PIND Trains CSOs for Host Communities on PIA Implementation

Sunday Okobi

The Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) in collaboration with the Ford Foundation has begun the training of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) in the Niger Delta.

A workshop, which was held in Warri, Delta State, starting on Tuesday, came barely two years after the enactment of the Act.

Representatives of the host communities were drawn from five epicentre states of oil and gas extractive activities in the Niger Delta region.

The participants at the capacity building initiative anchored on restructuring the management of the host communities and regulating the midstream and downstream operations, among others, were drawn from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Ondo States.

At the workshop, the Executive Director of PIND, Tunji Idowu, who was represented by the Advocacy Manager of PIND, Chuks Ofulue, at the opening ceremony of the three day workshop, said the workshop was to create awareness and understanding of the requirements of the PIA and ensure that communities recieve value from Host Communities Development Trusts.

According to him, “We want to build a capacity of the community people by getting the people that are closer to them which are the Non-governmental Organisations(NGOs) and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to help them build their own capacity so that they can understand what to expect from these Host Communities Development Trusts that will be established by the Oil Companies so that they can have a say in what development comes to their state.”

Idowu added: “In restructuring the management of the host communities, Chapter 3 of the PIA mandates the creation of the Host Communities Development Trust (HCDT) to improve the quality of life of the host communities’ population and improve accountability in the management of the HCDT Fund.”

He called for accountability from the various Host Communities Development Trusts.

The ED insisted that one of the gains expected from the PIA “is sustainable community development, manifested by the requirement for Participatory Needs Assessment (PNA) and Community Development Plans (CDP) to deliver sustainable growth.”

He spoke further that: “It will enable members of the three components of the Trust to align their functions with the interests of the various community stakeholders.

“So, it is left for host communities to select people with integrity who will not divert their funds or use such for personal investments but for the benefit of the community.

“This is already ongoing between the oil companies and host communities as the accruing fund is now being put in the Host Communities Development Trust, to be managed by accredited representatives of the host communities themselves. So, the era of the oil companies short-changing host communities is gone.

“This forum is preparing the host communities for the benefits of the PIA as the communities are getting the capacity, the skills to be able to manage the funds for their development.

“This is the time for host communities to take their destinies into their own hands. Now that the funds are in their hands, the communities should keep monitoring eyes on their representatives in the Trust to ensure accountability.”

One the participants who also spoke, the National Coordinator, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), Sheriff Mulade, said with the training given to them, they will be able to educate the host communities on how to manage the fund.

“We have great expectations in the PIA because of the effects of our communities. The Chapter 3 of the PIA has to do with rural communities and most of the communities are not aware of the process leading to the formation the Host Communities Development Trust (HCDT). So what we have come to do in the workshop organize by PIND is to deepen our understanding as CSOs and CBOs on the process so that we can help to educate and enlighten the host communities.”

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