By Anthony Isaac
Oil host communities in Bayelsa State has warned that oil production across the state may be halted if Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) did not stop its planned involvement in day to day management of Host Communities Development Trust Fund.
The Fund which was created by the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, is meant to be administered by the oil and gas companies in collaboration with the host communities.
The communities position was conveyed in a statement jointly signed by a foremost youth leader, Mr Christopher Tuduo, His Royal Highness , Theophilus Moses, chairman Dodo River Rural Development Authority, Francis Amamogiran, Hon. Target Segibo of Oporoma Rural Development Authority and former Chairman of Koluama Clan Oil and Gas Committee, Engr Ebimielayefa Dick- Ogbeyan.
The communities, in the statement issued a firm warning, declaring their readiness to take decisive action and escalate their efforts to address the concerns of the oil and gas communities if the Commission fails to treat the matter as an emergency.
Emphasizing their proactive engagement in pacifying the youths across various communities since the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), they underscored that the stability of oil operations could be compromised if NUPRC allows the situation to deteriorate further.
The they asked NUPRC to recognize the urgency of the matter and take immediate, substantive steps to resolve the concerns at hand, warning that improper handling of host community issues could have negative repercussions on Nigeria’s oil production and economy.
The communities stated that the NUPRC “must reverse any action and regulations adversely affecting the host community to avoid a severe backlash”, noting that host communities “are often excluded from the decision-making process, which results in the use of public resources to defend decisions in newspapers.
They criticized NUPRC’s intention, outlined in a letter dated 9th October, 2023, and signed by Capt. John R. Tonlagha for the Commission Chief Executive, which proposed participation in various activities related to the host community fund, such as BOT nominations, selection and inauguration, Management Committee Advisory Committee nomination and selection, and facilitation of NEEDs assessment.
They argued that this would be too much for the three per cent to fund.
The group maintained that while NUPRC’s oversight function is essential, over-involvement in the activities of the HCDTs is counterproductive and financially burdensome.
“They are getting into the operations arena, and this will not augur well for the industry because each participation by the NUPRC will be funded from the HCDT trust.”