When grassroots campaigning paid off – New Telegraph

About the Host Communities Trust Fund

Normally it was supposed to have started at the end of last month – it is the trust fund for host communities under the Petroleum Industry Act, which was enacted on August 16 last year by the President Muhammadu Buhari.

Of course, the fund, although it will not solve all the environmental pollution problems in the Niger Delta region due to oil exploration, but at least it will solve some problems if used wisely. It is recorded according to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency that a total of 1,086 oil spills were recorded in Bayelsa State from 2015 to 2022.

Women are mainly those who suffer the most from the spills as they are the farmers, women fishers and they do most of the artisanal work in the host communities.

Although looking at the whole law generally, it is in the interests of the oil companies and the federal government, bearing in mind that most conditions are not favorable to host communities . One of the conditions is that the 3% of the annual operating cost of the oil company’s expenses be donated to the host communities.

But this raises the question of who determines the operating cost and annual income.

Therefore, naive communities may not even know what to do and how to go about getting money. And what that means is that there may be no such thing as the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU).

Bayelsa Amazons Advocacy Campaign Group born

Even at that, women at the time were not fully trained in the scheme of things when it came to oil politics. With this in mind, a group known as the Bayelsa Amazons Advocacy Campaign recently embarked on a lobbying campaign to ensure that 30% of the 3% annual host communities trust fund will come to communities.

With this, the group recently undertook an advocacy visit to the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, to seek the inclusion of women in the management of the fund, employment opportunities, management and development. other opportunities and truly the campaign. paid off as it spawned a committee known as the Women’s Economic Inclusion Committee on AIP.

Stakeholders skeptical of the PIA

ADuring the visit, the Deputy Governor, while skeptical of the PIA, claimed that the role of state governments had been deliberately undermined.

Lamenting that the governments of the oil and gas producing states in the Niger Delta region have been practically reduced to mere observers, he noted that there were many loopholes in the PIA which clearly disadvantaged the oil regions, adding that President Buhari had denied state governments their full participation in the implementation of the PIA.

He said: “We have some loopholes in the PIA law. You can’t deprive a man of his rights and expect him not to complain. Given the way the law is written, they have effectively reduced the role of oil-producing states to that of “siddon-watchers”.

“I am really worried that those who made the law have, as usual, undermined the state in terms of exploration and management of oil resources. And you know that anything that doesn’t have a legal basis doesn’t have the power to enforce it.

Also Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers of Bayelsa State, King Bubaraye Dakolo had recently advised host communities in the Niger Delta region to first oppose the part of the PIA which stipulates that any oil disruption that occurs in their area will be counted to them as a loss for their 3% annual funds which will come to them from the oil companies operating in their area.

King Dakolo, who is the Ibenanaowei IV of the Kingdom of Ekpetiama, argued that PIA was not really intended to help the people of the Niger Delta region, but rather that the act was aimed at further impoverishing the people. people, thus rendering them powerless.

Speaking in Yenagoa when the Bayelsa Women’s Rights Campaign Group in conjunction with Global Care Rescue Mission, led by Elizabeth Egbe, paid him a courtesy visit, King Dakolo told them to give a kick against the heinous act before asking for 30% of the 3% that is supposed to come to the host community stating that if the act is allowed to be done like this, the host communities may not even have 3% to share.

King said the group’s campaign was laudable and noble, but informed them that agitation for 3% of 30% of all oil funds could shoot themselves in the foot, adding that according to a document from Shell, the inclusion of women must be at least 30%.

He said, “The PIA in my mind is an anti-people act. It is directed against the inhabitants of the Niger Delta, the oil producers, against the men, women and children of the oil producing communities. And that’s why no player in the oil industry complains about it.

In fact, they sponsored the bill. “They pocketed those in the National Assembly, ransomed them and greased their palms to get them to pass this insane document. Before I start talking about some benefiting from 3%, the 30% has to come first, but will the 3% come the way it’s been structured?

They said that in order for you to get the 3%, there must be no interruption of oil and gas activities in your area. Oil companies have not been the best of companies. Over the past 70 years, they have shown that they are only after the money.

The BAACG asks

The leader of the group, Egbe, had said during all the advocacy visits that the group is asking for the inclusion of women in the community trust fund which will come in accordance with the law, adding that more than 30% of the money to receive gas flaring penalties for the purposes of environmental remediation and assistance to host communities, as set out in the PIA, must take into account the interest of women around host communities .

She continued, “30% of the operational requirements for the Host Community Development Trust should be allocated to women.

Board appointment across the trust should consider 30% female membership. Appointment to host community management committees should consider 30% female membership.

“Investment funds for host communities must be distributed equitably for the benefit of men and women. The trust fund distribution matrix should be technically structured to benefit men and women equitably.

“Fund managers to be appointed must be individuals holding a gender equity license. The senior executives to be appointed should be made up of 30% women. Host community advisory committees should be made up of 30% or more women.

The group also called for the needs assessment of each host community to be developed with respect for gender neutrality, indicating that host community development plans should be developed within a gender justice framework. .

The Commissioner for Women’s Affairs, Social Development and Empowerment, Faith Opene, had explained that the program championed by the women’s group aimed to achieve 30% representation of women in the implementation of the PIA.

And their campaign paid off

Less than two months after the campaign resumed, the Bayelsa State government, seeing the importance of women in society, inaugurated a committee which it called the Bayelsa Women’s Economic Inclusion Committee ( BWEIC) on PIA.

Inaugurating the committee on behalf of State Governor Douye Diri, Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo instructed them to do everything possible for the committee to succeed.

He said, “I believe this committee not only has the ability to think, it also has the ability to think and put it into practice because of the range of people on this committee.”

The deputy governor had assured recently during a courtesy visit by the group to his office that the government would set up a committee to monitor and track the implementation of the PIA in the state.

Committee members are Faith Opene who will be supported by Princess Egbe, Mary Accrah Bekeowei, Secretary, Omubo Ifiemi Karina, Assistant Secretary, Doubra Ofoni, Financial Secretary, Victoria Feboke PRO, Pauline Onyibe, Publicity Secretary, Winner Obonin Dominic and Deme Pamosoo for the legal team.

Others are Juliet Teibowei, Queen Tessy Diongoli and Queen Agala Pat for Conflict Resolution, Biobelemo Akpolo as Women Mobilizer, One Representative Each of Women in Renewable Energy, Joy Daniel for Virtually Handicapped, Debekeme Katherine to represent women farmers while Eunice Debekeme is platform for tax justice and good governance.

Thanking the Bayelsa State government for establishing the committee, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Social Development and Empowerment, Faith Opene, assured the government that the committee was ready to work and achieve the goal. of its creation.

She said: “This committee is going to start and we will constantly report our activities to the government.”

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