From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Civil Society Organizations and community leaders from the oil rich Niger Delta have urged the Nigerian government and oil multinationals to ensure transparency and equity in the oil and gas industry.
The call was made yesterday, at a workshop organised in Port Harcourt, by Fostering Advancement in Community Empowerment Initiative, FACE-Initiative, in collaboration with Facility for Oil Sector Transformation, FOSTER, on the impact of the oil and gas sector on the quality of life.
A resources person at the workshop, Dr Sam Kabari, Head, Centre for Environment and Human Rights Development, CEHRD, during his presentation noted lack of transparency and accountability as key domestic policies lacking in the oil and gas sector, adding that the challenge has affected quality of life especially in the oil producing states.
According to the environmentalist, Nigeria’s ineffective oil and gas sector is really a big challenge to the nation economy as it affects the development of the people at the local communities.
Presenting his paper titled ‘The Impacts of Oil and Gas Sector on the Quality of Life in Nigeria’, Dr Kabari stressed that the policies at the moment set for the sector are inadequate and weak, adding that ‘Non of the PIB has become functional. We have a legislative regime that encourages corruption and are not transparent, hence there would have been improvement in the oil and gas sector’.
The Executive Director of FACE-Initiative, Inatimi Odio in an interview with The AUTHORITY newspaper at the programme, noted the need for the Nigerian government and multinationals to be transparent in oil and gas governance and management.
He condemned the exclusion of oil host communities in the activities of the sector, adding that the people continue to remain in abject poverty even when they have oil wells in their communities.
Mr Odio said: ‘There is no transparency and accountability in the oil and gas governance and management. Hardly any community can say how many barrels of oil that is drilled from oil well in their land or how much was derived from sales of the oil. With that they cannot demand for their rights in terms if government giving back to development in their community.
‘Sometimes, I begin to wonder why shouldn’t community, local government and state have stake or be part of ownership of oil wells but you hardly find that. That shows to what extent community is excluded from oil and gas governance, unlike solid minerals where you see the locals exploring their resources.
‘However, the PIB would have contributed largely to opening up the opportunity for community participation in oil and gas governance and management, but the component of the bill yet to be passed into law, so community continue to suffer that exclusion’, Mr Odio stressed.
Meanwhile, in his opening remarks, Mr Anthony Ihianle, FOSTER, explained that the programme was organized to create awareness among stakeholders, to see how oil and gas management had affected the living condition of not only people in oil bearing communities but in the entire country.
Part of the objectives of the meeting was to galvanise stakeholders from the demand side to demand for better oil and gas governance regime.