A cross section of discussants at a town hall meeting on implemention of PIA and PSC Refund in Akwa Ibom state organised by Accountant Lab Nigeria in collaboration with Policy Alert.

By Abasifreke Effiong

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in the extractives sector have called for the establishment of community development associations in all host communities.

At a one day town hall meeting on benefit sharing frameworks with oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom State, the CSOs said such community-based associations should work to improve development, increase awareness creation and strengthen community participation in the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act.

The town hall meeting which was organised by Accountability Lab Nigeria in collaboration with Policy Alert drew participants from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), oil producing community members, government agencies and media institutions across the state.

The meeting called for the inclusion of community stakeholders in negotiation with oil companies, and advocated the enforcement of sanctions against oil companies that fail to comply with extant laws and the sensitization of host communities on policy and framework of the extractives industry, especially as it concerns the Petroleum Industry Act and Petroleum Sharing Contract Refunds.

PIA implementation: CSOs call for creation of community development associations A cross section of participants at the event.

At the meeting participants from oil bearing communities noted that despite suffering from huge impact of the operations of oil companies their communities were still facing huge deficit in healthcare, education and other social infrastructure.

They urged the government and civil society organisations to impressed upon oil companies to clean up damages done to host communities and the environment.

In his address, Mr. Friday Odeh, Country Director of Accountability Lab Nigeria appreciated participants for attending the stakeholders’ meeting.

READ : Fiscal Responsibility Commission blocks Udom Emmanuel’s 150bn loan request

He explained that the event was all about getting critical stakeholders from oil producing communities aquatinted with Petroleum Industry Act and what is expected of them in order to get their benefits.

Speaking, the Executive Director of Policy Alert, Mr. Tijah Bolton-Akpan urged the communities to take up the responsibility of setting Management Committee as stipulated by the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.

“It behooves on the communities to act on the issue of PIA. If we fail it therefore means that you have failed.”

He warned them against divide and rule strategy of oil companies and urged them to be organized so as not to open flanks for oil companies to exploit them.

Also speaking, Mr. Mfon Gabriel from Policy Alert, recalled different amounts collected by South South governors as 13 percent derivation fund which he said are meant for the development of oil producing communities.

He said in spite huge amount of money received by states, oil producing communities are left underdeveloped, adding that PIA provides ample opportunity for oil producing communities to develop their areas.

Another presenter, Mr. Faith Paulinus recalled that for decades, Oil Producing Communities in Niger Delta have been ripped off socially and economically with enormous environmental injustices followed by agitations for equitable distribution of receipts from Oil and Gas with Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution serving as an answer.

He frowned at indiscriminate spending by governors of Niger Delta states without serving for the future.

“All Niger Delta States have enacted the FRL, yet the implementation process looks weak. Very few of these states laws have stabilization fund component and none has a future serving component that can compel the states to put away some of the expected funds for future use, giving state government an opportunity to exploit this window to channel the funds to immediate spending thereby not adhering to fiscal rules.” Faith said.