In order to deepen understanding of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and avert resistance by oil bearing communities, The Federal Government has been urged to fund the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for robust public sensitization on the Act among those communities.
Her Royal Majesty, The Omu of Anioma Kingdom, Obi Martha Dunkwu gave this admonition when she received the NOA Director General, Dr. Garba Abari and the Agency’s civil society partners during an advocacy visit to her palace.
The Monarch observed that the PIA has been a burning topic of discussion in the Niger Delta and that the people are quite uncomfortable with the 3% of oil companies’ Operating Expenses allotted by the Act to the Host Communities Development Trust Fund (HCDTF).
This discontent, she noted, stems from the fact that government has not sufficiently sensitized the people on the Act.
She said the NOA needs funding from Government to flood the Niger Delta with jingles on the PIA and its benefits in Pidgin English and local languages broadcast using local media outlets.
She expressed her incurable optimism in the Nigerian project, adding that there was nothing wrong in committing petroleum resources to oil exploration and development of other parts of the country.
She also said state governments must be actively involved in monitoring the implementation of the HCDTF in the interest of resolving conflicts that may arise therefrom and maintaining the peace.
Represented by the NOA Bayelsa State Director, Mr. Gogo Iyaye, Dr. Abari identified the need for traditional institutions in the Niger Delta to play active roles in coordinating the nomination of Board Members for the HCDTF in their communities to ensure that the interest of their communities are best served.
He highlighted the benefits of the PIA to the host communities and the economy and called for all stakeholders to work together for the hitch-free implementation of the petroleum law.
Noting the commitment of NOA and its partners to achieving extensive public understanding of the PIA, the NOA Director General commended Her Royal Majesty for her support to this cause and for always speaking up in defense of national interest and development.
On his part, the CISLAC Executive Director, Mallam Auwal Ibrahim Musa, represented by Mr. Chinedu Bassey, appealed to the traditional ruler to lend her support, as a respected voice in and beyond Delta State, to educating host communities about their rights and privileges under the new petroleum law with a view to mobilizing them to take right actions.
For the Country Director, OXFAM in Nigeria, represented by Mr. Henry Ushie, there is need to devote of 10% of the HCDTF to addressing gender related issues and he called for Her Royal Majesty to champion a campaign in this regard.
He also stressed the need for host communities to work harmoniously with oil companies towards implementing the provisions of the PIA which, he said, would benefit the communities.