Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Awka, the Anambra State capital, was in celebration mood recently. There was a gathering of people from the oil-producing axis and entire Anambra North Zone for the formal inauguration of the new executives of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM).
On August 30, 2012, former President Goodluck Jonathan had, while inaugurating Orient Petroleum, Anambra River production facility at Aguleri-Otu in Anambra East Local Government Area, declared the state the 10th oil-producing state in the country. Other oil-producing states are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa, Abia, Imo, Ondo, Delta and Edo.
And after qualifying as an oil-producing state, Anambra would get 13 per cent derivation fund as proceeds from oil produced from the state. The state would also become a member state of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and part of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, alongside other opportunities.
The reporter gathered that HOSTCOM, a non-governmental organisation comprising all communities where oil and gas are found in the country, has been in existence for the past 18 years, advocating the common good of people of the oil-producing states.
Though the state was yet to gain its full status or derivatives as an oil state, there have been high hopes when Anambra became part HOSTCOM on January 8, 2014 following the inauguration of its state chapter with Mr Chimzobam Kingsley Nnalue as pioneer chairman.
During the inauguration of the new executives of the group now led by Chief Victor Emeka (Okosisi Idueri), national president of HOSTCOM, High Chief Benjamin Style Tamaranebi, said the group pressurises the Federal Government and oil-producing states in the Niger Delta to create oil commissions to manage part of the 13 per cent oil derivation funds on behalf of the oil producing communities.
Tamaranebi expressed concern that the Federal Government was yet to grant Anambra State its status: “Former President Goodluck Jonathan visited Anambra State in 2012 and declared the status of the state and there were proven production quantum of 10,000 barrel per day from ANAR 1, 4 & 5 in OPL 915 operated by Sterling global. Likewise, OPL 916 is operated by Orient Petroleum at ALO 1 location.
“I must recall, if 10,000 daily capacity production is correct, then why the delay? I want to appeal to the government of Anambra State to check with the Federal Government Fiscal and Revenue Mobilisation Committee where 10,000 barrels of crude is going”
He recalled that Nigeria with 5100 barrel per day as at 1958 was considered to be a member of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whereas the Federal Government was yet to do the needful for Anambra state.
“Permit me to commend the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari’s keen interest on host communities’ development which he vowed to achieve within this administration concerning gas flare fund payment to host communities, involvement of host communities in pipeline security, as well as youths and economic empowerment for rural people in general.
“Our vision is to join forces with the government and its agencies, multinational oil and gas companies and others to create an enabling environment devoid of youth restiveness, hijacking/kidnapping and wanton destruction of oil and gas facilities across the Niger Delta region.
He said the group has made various suggestions and input for implementation of payment of 13 per cent derivation to host communities, which he noted is allegedly being hijacked by various state governors in the Niger Delta amounting to over ten N10 trillion.
He appealed to Governor Willie Obiano to work with the new executive while dealing in matters with oil and gas in communities as they would act as information gathering points for oil and gas communities.
The immediate past Chairman of the HOSTCOM in Anambra State, Chief Chimzobam Kingsley Nnalue, said the group had faced many challenges including involvement in the processes of the gas flaring penalties fund, 13 per cent derivatives fund and apprehending individuals extorting money in the name of HOSTCOM.
He said his tenure which ran between 2014 and July 2020 had created awareness on the workings of HOSTCOM, attracted opportunities, developed agricultural blueprint, and ended the fraudulent activities of some impostors.
He solicited the support of government and the traditional institutions for his successor.
The new HOSTCOM state executives include Emeka Victor as Chairman, Hon. Henry Ugbomah (Vice Chairman), the state Chairperson of FIDA, Prof. Ogugua Ikpeze (State Woman Leader); Barr. Ebele Ejikeme, Legal Adviser I and Hon. Ojone Amos, State Secretary among others.
It also has as patrons, the traditional ruler of Umunya in Oyi LGA, Igwe Chris Onyekwuluje, Igwe Ben Emeka of Umueri, Anambra East and Chief Anthony Anukwu, Prof. Carol Arinze Umeobi (Patroness) while Prince Arthur Eze is its Grand Patron.
Chairman of the occasion and traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Ben Emeka, who assured support of the traditional rulers in the oil producing communities to HOSTCOM in achieving its key objectives and missions, urged the executives to work as a team.
The new Chairman, Chief Victor Emeka, promised to run an open and inclusive government as well as to ensure that there is industrial harmony and hospitality between multinationals, allied companies and host communities producing oil and gas.
“Despite that Anambra State is still on observation status, we have secured two national positions in HOSTCOM. We have initiated some youths and women empowerment programmes. We have acres of land for agricultural purposes and also hiring out tractors for mechanised farming at cheaper rates. More empowerment programmes will follow soon.”