Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has renewed its call for economic, environmental and social justice for oil, gas and mining host communities in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr Ogbonnaya Orji made the call in Owerri, Imo State at the opening ceremony of the National Extractives Dialogue organised by a civil society organisation- Spaces for Change in collaboration with NEITI and the Ford Foundation.
Orji stated that a special multi-stakeholder’s approach was required to draw national and international attention to the specific responsibilities of extractive companies, the government, the civil society organisations, development partners and the host communities.
It added that this will address development issues of access to education, health care, job opportunities, environmental challenges and social infrastructure deficit in oil, gas and mining host communities.
The NEITI executive secretary advised leaders of host communities drawn from the South-south and South-east geopolitical zones to change their advocacy approach.
He urged them to work with NEITI to push their complaints through peaceful consultations driven by knowledge, information and data sharing, constructive engagements and dialogue.
Orji explained that the rationale behind the focus of this year’s annual dialogue series focusing on Host Community Development Trusts was to serve as a new platform for discussions and constructive debates on how citizens-centred policy engagements.
“There is the need to examine how the host community development trust as enshrined in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is being implemented. What is the governance structure? How inclusive, participatory and transparent is the process of nominating members of the board of trustees, management committees and advisory committees,” he said.
The Deputy Chairman, Committee on Host Communities in the House of Representatives, Abdulkarim Ahmed called for inclusion of public education, conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanism in the implementation of fund and pledged the support of the National Assembly.
The Governor of Imo state, represented by the Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Prof. Eugene Opara, expressed satisfaction with the direction of the dialogue and pledged the support of the state government.