Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has said a trust fund would be set up to take care of the 3% allocated for the host communities to avert any crisis that may arise in the implementation of the just-assented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
Akpabio, who addressed newsmen at a briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team in the State House, Abuja, Thursday, assured that the Ministry of Niger Delta would ensure that the funds are used on executing tangible projects for the host communities, rather than disbursing among the elite class from such communities.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari should be commended for mustering the political will to assent to the law after over five decades.
“I think the major problem is not about the disbursement but how it will impact the communities,” Akpabio said.
“These funds will be managed by the host communities themselves and the 3% will go into a trust fund for the various communities who are the original indigenes.
“We are excited about the Petroleum Industry Act, our job is to help facilitate the effective participation of the host communities. The trustees of the fund will come from the actual community.
“PIA when implemented is going to assuage the feelings of the host communities because they never had any real benefit in over 50years. The major thing now is to use it well for their own benefit.”
The minister appealed the people to see the development as a major step in the right direction.
“The problem of the host community fund is not the percentage neither is it the problem money. But how the money will be utilized judiciously and the same time, in a way where there is no acrimony,” Akpabio said.
“I don’t want that will break or cause communal clashes. So, I believe strongly as a ministry that is responsible for the peace for the region, that we will take interest in how certain decisions are made as to who is a host community and who are those that should manage the fund.
“The law would have provided for this but at the same time, human being must also assist in the law in such a way that there is no acrimony. This PIB has been a game on the drawing board.
“The Petroleum Industry Act PIA when implemented is going to assuage the feelings of the people of the host communities because they never had half a percent when oil when discovered in 1956 in Olobri. That is why I said that it is not the percentage that is the issue. Some communities could not even do this solar-powered toilet, some had no drinking water, even water tankers supplying them water failed because they had oil exploration and exploitation had destroyed their water system.
“But now with the PIA, they would be able to do certain things for themselves without waiting on oil companies, the federal government or the state to do it for them.
“My prayer is that the people would see this as a major step. People are arguing about percentages, I am not interested in that. We would manage this 3% but the major thing is to use it well. Even the small percentage that use to come to the NDDC, at least, they did not utilize it well.
“I believe the host communities would list out their problems, come together in unity and justify this action of Mr president and this action of Nigerians.”