Group photo of oil producing communities CSOs, media organisations and government representatives at a-one day policy dialogue on PIA implementation in Uyo organised by CISLAC and Policy Alert.

Abasifreke Effiong, Uyo.

Non-governmental organisations working around the Nigerian extractive sector have urged oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom state to engage oil companies operating in their communities on the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.

The call was made during a-one day policy dialogue in Uyo, aimed at strengthening civic advocacy and local engagement on the guidelines to the implementation of the PIA.

The policy dialogue which was facilitated by the Accountability in the Extractive Sector (AES) cluster, with CISLAC as the anchor in collaboration with Policy Alert was organised by SCALE Palladium project funded by USAID.

The dialogue drew representations from five oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom state, the media, CSOs and government agencies.

Representatives of the oil producing communities of Unyenge in Mbo local government area, Uquo and Ntak Inyang in Esit Eket, Ukpenekang in Ibeno, and Iko in Eastern Obolo reported that oil companies operating in their domain have not engaged them on the setting up of the Host Communities Development Trust, HCDT.

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Under the PIA, oil companies are obligated to work with host communities to ensure the setting up of the HCDT within one year of the signing of the law. The PIA was signed into law in August 2021.

The Lead on Extractives at Policy Alert, Mr. Mfon Gabriel in a presentation entitled, “Reveiw of host communities’ development regulations and implementation template and procedural guidelines”, emphasised the need for the oil producing communities to be acquainted with the guidelines to the implementation of the PIA so that they can properly engage the settlors and relevant agencies of government.

Mr. Gabriel stressed the need for the communities to take note of the implementation timelines stipulated in the PIA.

He took the oil community representatives on the delineation of host communities; step-by-step process, requirements, roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in setting up of the HCDT; conducting community needs assessment and developing host community development plan.

Earlier, the program manager of CISLAC, Mr. Chinedu Bassey said the policy dialogue on reviewing the legal framework in the extractive sector was part of its project codenamed SCALE (Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement).

He encouraged oil producing community representatives to step down the lessons learnt at the policy dialogue, saying that host communities will make the most out of the PIA if they are fully aware of and enlightened on the provisions of the PIA and the guidelines to its implementation.

Mr. Bassey said that the implementation guidelines developed by the government has simplified the PIA and should give the host communities a clearer understanding of the law, encouraged them to read the guidelines.