By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The National Executive Council of the Host Communities of Nigeria (HOSCON), a Niger Delta group representing oil-producing areas, has urged the federal government to begin the payment of gas flare penalties directly to the affected communities.
The group also said that it was satisfied with President Muhammadu Buhari’s stand during its meeting with him a few weeks ago that communities where oil and gas are taken from should benefit from it.
Part of the argument by HOSCON has been that communities in the Niger Delta which bear the brunt of the effects of gas flaring activities by oil companies should receive the levy paid by the culprits (oil multinationals) rather than the federal government.
A statement by Mr Monday Whiskey, National Director of Media and Publicity of the host oil and gas producing communities, said the position of HOSCON was arrived at after an enlarged meeting of the group in Warri.
The members drawn from the nine oil producing areas, he said, also agreed that there was need to award pipelines contracts to groups which have the goodwill and capacity to deliver.
“After an enlarged emergency National meeting at the headquarters of HOSCON in Warri to review the recent audience granted by President Muhammadu Buhari, we resolved that the President should prevail on the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to urgently release all outstanding gas flare penalty levy to the benefit of our people.
“This will fast-track the development initiative of HOSCON and her foreign development partners” the statement said.
Accordingly, it said: “That a vote of confidence was passed on President Muhammadu Buhari for his vision to ensure that the constitution of Nigeria is strictly followed in the application of the 13% derivation fund that was hitherto misapplied by Governors of the oil bearing states to the detriment of the oil/gas bearing constituents.
“That the intention to ensure the 13% derivation fund is made directly available to the people of the oil/gas bearing constituents is one of the most outstanding decisions that this government can take as its affects the social economic and infrastructural transformation of the long neglected and impoverished oil bearing region of the country.”
During the meeting, Whiskey said that the body further commended the leadership of the Chairman, Board of Trustees, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, founding father of HOSCON Chief Wellington Okirika and National Chairman, HOSCON, Dr. Mike Emuh.