The Federal Government says it will again, engage Niger Delta oil producing host communities on the three per cent operational costs allocated to them in the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Mr Timipre Sylva, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, said this on Friday in Abuja, when a group of Ijaw elders, leaders and critical stakeholders visited to congratulate him on the passage of the PIB, after 20 years.
Sylva, while tasking host communities on effective management of the funds, decried the situation where communities in the Bonny Island could not access funds paid to them by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG).
This, he noted, followed court cases instituted by some individuals.
The minister said he had extracted commitment of multinational oil firms to relocate their operational headquarters to the Niger Delta region.
He urged elders in the region to continue to sensitise communities to secure public assets in their areas, in the interest of the people.
“We are planning, alongside the Minister of Information and Culture, to hold town hall meetings in the host communities after the presidential assent to the PIB.
“We need to have more stakeholders’ engagement on the three per cent allocated to the communities, people need to know that it is from production costs, not from profit,” he said.
He explained that the production cost was always higher than the profits.
“Today, I can tell you that we are on the last mile of the oil economy. Economies around the world are now discussing renewable fuel.
“We must understand that, very soon, we may wake up and find out that oil is not as valuable a commodity as we thought.
“Coal did not finish before the world moved away from it. There is still a lot of coal deposits in Enugu, but if you give some of it to someone, he may not appreciate it because, the world has moved away from coal,”he said.
The minister said there was need to support every effort to ensure the oil we had today, was produced and sold, so we could get the benefits.
He recalled the struggle to pass the PIB which introduced a lot of uncertainties in the horizon, in the last 20 years.
This, he said, was because when you are in the process of amending your laws, investors would hold on to see what the amendment would be.
“That was why since the last 20 years, investments in the sector was on hold.
“In 2020, there was over 50 billion dollars investments in Africa and what came to Nigeria was three billon dollars, because of the uncertainty in the sector.
“Our main challenge is resource management, if we manage the funds to the Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) 13 per cent derivation, three per cent host communities funds and even the one from the amnesty programme, we won’t have some of the issues currently confronting us,” he said.
Earlier, the 33-member delegation led by Mr Timi Ogoriba, commended the minister for the reforms in the petroleum industry sector, especially the expansion of the gas sector.
On the passage of the PIB, the delegation lauded the minister for handling the herculean task of working with the ninth National Assembly to ensure its eventual passage.
Ogoriba noted that by this feat, Sylva’s footprints in the sands of time would remain indelible.
He, however, advised that it was necessary for government to sustain its enlightenment efforts on the three per cent component of production costs, standing as host Communities Development Trust Fund in the bill.
He stressed that knowledge and understanding of the magnitude of socio- economic benefits, the trust fund guaranteed, would go a long way to assuage fears and concerns of the people.
He decried the unhealthy tradition of always fighting to pull down sons and daughters of the region in public offices.
The team leader noted that the best way to go was to support the region’s representatives at all levels to succeed.(NAN)