Participants at a-one day sensitisation on strengthening civic actors’ awareness and capacity for local engagement on oil host community development in Uyo, organised by CISLAC.
• Demand transparency in management of HCDT
Host communities, media and Civil Society Organisations in Akwa Ibom State have called on the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to ask oil companies to publish their annual operational cost to ensure transparency in administration and management of the Host Communities Development Trust (HCDT).
The host communities, media and CSOs working on accountability and transparency in the extractive sector made the call at a sensitisation on strengthening civic actors’ awareness and capacity for local engagement on oil host community development in Uyo on September 14, 2023, organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with Accountability in the Extractive Sector (AES) and the Niger Delta Open Government Observatory (NOGO) under the SCALE project implemented by Palladium and funded by USAID.
The stakeholders told NUPRC to mandate settlors to publish amount paid to each Trust, called on BoT of HCDTs to make its procurement process open to the public, publish its audited accounts and hold quarterly meeting to brief communities on development about the Trust.
To tackle nepotism in appointment of members of HCDT management committees by some settlors in Akwa Ibom, the forum called for the amendment of the PIA to allow communities select their representatives to the HCDT.
“By giving the settlors power to accept or reject a nominee into the trust management committee, the PIA gave too much power to the oil companies. The experience is that, the settlors do very little or no consultation with the community in determining membership of the Trust because of that provision. The consultation process is opaque, community members are not carried along”, representatives from the host community-based organisations said during experience sharing.
The host communities tasked CSOs and media organisations to rave up monitoring and demand for accountability in management of the HCDTs, while urging settlors yet to set up host community development trust to hasten up.
Appraising the implementation of HCDT, Omolade Awah, a manager at NUPRC said our out of 261 effective and operational oil mining licenses only 81 Trusts are incorporated so far.
The Executive Director Civil Society Legislative Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) represented by the Programme Manager, CISLAC Chinedu Bassey noted that there was huge knowledge gap in host communities on provisions of Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), its regulations and the process of establishing HCDT, hence need for more sensitisation.
Musa said the sensitisation aims to strengthen knowledge of CSOs working within the extractive sector on the provision of the PIA on the rights of host communities, improve alliance towards intensifying efforts and improving quality of outcomes, and mobilise a critical mass of citizens in building and amplifying contents that will improve host communities welfare.
“This activity seeks to leverage a community of civic actors, CSOs, CBOs and media alike, to harmonize efforts in ramping awareness for communities towards collectivising and improving the quality of outcomes and impact in the interests of the communities we serve.
“The engagement intends to establish what has been done and what needs to be done, with a view to developing an agenda for onward action on how it could be done.”
The sensitisation engagement featured breakout session on developing collaborative line of actions, and paper presentation from Mrs E.D. Ufondu, Director, Host Community, NUPRC on “Progress towards the effective implementation of host community development provisions of the PIA”; Mr Mfon Gabriel, Executive Director, Well of Science Foundation (WSF) on “Host communities’ development regulations/host community trust funds template and procedural guidelines”, and Mr Jude Samuelson, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), on “Identifying challenges and opportunities in advancing establishment of Trusts and associated structures”.