From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Governors of the South-South states have demanded an upward review of the Host Community Trust Fund in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to 10 percent from the current 2.5 percent.
Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum and Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, made this assertion at the end of the forum’s meeting which held at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Monday night.
“We have discussed with our people and collectively as leaders of the people in our various states and as leaders standing in on behalf of our people, we urge that the National Assembly should increase the provision in the host community fund from 2.5 percent to 10 percent in the best interest of our communities, in the best interest of our nation.”
The governors maintained that the communities have a role to play in the surveillance of the nation’s oil facilities and pipeline network. They expressed the belief that if the communities feel satisfied with provision of funds for them in the PIB, they were more likely going to be watchdog on behalf of the Federal Government, the states and oil companies.
“And the peaceful environment that would be seen in the various oil communities would enable us to have greater production and a seamless production in which we do not have any form of disruption in our oil productions going into the future,” Okowa said.
The governors also advised President Muhammadu Buhari that in the absence of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), funds for the commission beyond the payment of salaries should be put in an escrow account until he constitutes the board.
They described as worrisome the running of the NDDC in over a year by an Interim Caretaker Committee, and now, an interim administrator.
Okowa said situation does not augur well for the people of the Niger Delta as opportunity for all States to be represented as they ought to be represented in the board of the NDDC does not exist
The governors demanded that whenever the board of the NDDC is constituted, the advisory council must be called upon to place its role to ensure there is check and balance in such a matter that the States would truly have value for money expended by the NDDC.
“A situation where we begin to have emergency projects that possibly will not last three to six months is not right, we don’t feel happy about it and we are urging Mr. President to ensure that if the board is not going to be immediately constituted, then funds for the NDDC beyond the payment of salaries should be put on hold until he constitutes the board and the board can now run the finances of the NDDC as per the law creating the NDDC.”
Buhari to inaugurate N16bn office complex
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari will tomorrow inaugurate the N16 billion newly-completed office complex of the which work started in 1996.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio, announced this when he briefed newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The new NDDC office is equipped with facilities including hospital, banking hall, conference hall and restaurant.
Akpabio said the building which started in 1996 witnessed slow pace of work until 2019 when President Buhari committed to its completion.
“The road to completion of the over N16 billion NDDC office edifice started when I visited the building in 2019 and learnt that the project commenced 25 years ago in 1996