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Heritage, Oando/Agip, NEPL, oil majors threaten Isoko alternative energy quest with non-disclosure of 3% PIA funds

In August 2021, the Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 was passed. The PIA, which was signed into law, is one of the most audacious attempts to overhaul the petroleum sector in Nigeria. The Act seeks to provide legal, governance, regulatory, and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry.

With a promise to accelerate the economic and social development of communities in the petroleum-producing areas, the Act made new arrangements for fostering sustainable prosperity within the host communities; providing direct social and economic benefits from petroleum operations to the host communities such as Isoko. Yet, communities, such as Olomoro, with the highest pipelines running through any community in Nigeria is littered with under development, lack of infrastructure, lack of youth employment, poor health facilities, oil spills and more. It is the sane story across all the oil and gas rich communities in Isokoland.

The Isoko ethnic tribes are no longer going to stay passive. The decision to uncover the audacity that makes it possible for the 3% Host Community OPEX due to the natives and all who reside in Isokoland can no longer be swept under the rug

By admin , in Inside stories , at January 29, 2024

By ERU Umukoro

The quest by oil-rich Isoko ethnic nation in Delta State to channel their share of funds accruing from the 3% Petroleum Industry Act (PIA 2021) and invest it in gas-powered alternative energy is being threatened by the oil corporations in the two Isoko Local Government Areas – North and South LGAs. This is as enquiries made to the companies by Isoko nation’s apex social cultural body, Isoko Development Union (IDU), continue to hit the brick wall by the refusal of the oil companies to disclose how much is due to Isoko nation since PIA law came into effect. IDU is worried that the oil companies’ continued refused will scuttle the body’s intention to provide alternation power to Isoko nation to rev up businesses and make way for the establishment of industries in Isoko to provide employment and arrest youth restiveness.

Worried by the perennial darkness that envelops year-in year-out, as a result of the inability of the DISCOs to provide power, IDU decided to explore alternative provision of power to its citizen by converting the abundant gas being flared by these oil companies to electricity. IDU’s quest for alternative energy provision is fueled by the Federal Government’s utter neglect of Isoko people as a major oil-producing ethnic nation that has no single government’s presence in terms of facilities or political patronage in terms of appointment of Isoko sons or daughters into any federal organ or position, whether as minister, diplomat or head of MDA. Uzere, a community in Isoko, is the second community where oil was discovered shortly after Oloibiri in Bayelsa State in commercial quantities. Whereas Oloibiri’s oil wells have since dried up, the wells in Uzere are still waxing strong as major oil and gas hubs that supply huge quantities of hydrocarbon that continue to fuel the national economy. Yet Uzere and the entire Isoko are enveloped in darkness and without any federal government’s presence. This is also the case in other Isoko communities that are hosts to oil facilities, from Olomoro, Oleh, Irri to Ozoro, Ovruode, among others.

To achieve its goal of providing alternative energy for Isoko, IDU on July 2023 set up a 10-man Committee on Alternative Energy Supply to Isoko Nation, chaired by Engr. Onwo Nelson, with Dr. Edafe Asedegbega as secretary. Other members of the committee include co-chair Rev. (Dr.) Godspower E. Agbuduta, Engr. Oba Obi, Dr. Vincent Edewhor, Mr. Igelige Morrison, Chief Adonis Ubuwere, Chief Dan Odhomo, Dr. Michael Oke and Comrade Morister Idibra. The committee recently submitted its report in the form of a communique to IDU.

Noting that “Harmonising all our projects in the year 2024 into electricity will deliver the needed result, but without electricity we cannot develop as an ethnic nation,” the committee’s communique reads in part, “The PIA 2021, signed into law, which took effect since June 2022, grants 3% of OPEX to the host communities. The content of the PIA says the 3% must be spent on the host communities after a ‘Need Assessment’ is conducted. The manager of the 3% is “Host Communities Trust Fund”. We don’t need anyone to tell us what our number one ‘Need’ is other than regular electricity supply. Hence, we have written to the operators in Isoko nation namely: Heritage, Oando/Agip, First Hydrocarbon, NEPL (formerly NPDC) and NUPRC (formerly DPR) for them to reveal how much they’re owing Isoko as guaranteed by PIA, but until now (January 2024) we have not gotten any reply.

“We are not begging the oilfields operators for anything. It is Isoko money, as guaranteed by law but the reason they have failed to disclose the two-year backlog of the 3% due Isoko, we don’t know. According to PIA, the money is not to be shared or given to any individual. Rather, a community must mention a project or projects which the money must be used for. Remember, Isoko has collapsed all individual community projects for this single electricity project and being handled by IDU.”

According to the chairman of the Committee on Alternative Energy Supply to Isoko Nation Engr. Onwo Nelson, “The Federal Government stands to gain a lot from the monetization of the gas needed to power the IPP Isoko is planning to build. Gas flaring will be reduced in our communities to avert the health hazards associated with indiscriminate gas flaring currently being undertaken by these oil companies without regard to the health of Isoko people, which is a crime on its own. However, all these noble intentions are being threatened by the oil companies’ refusal to respond to letters written to them.

“The PIA is an Act of Parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They should not wait till they’re dragged to court to respect the constitution, or their operations are disrupted through agitation by communities, because PIA 2021 is a constitutional matter, and the odds favour us in our quest – to use our own money to develop our nation. What is even annoying is these oil companies only take and take and do nothing to help their host communities to live better lives. How can Isoko be in darkness when oil companies operate in our lands and destroy them and flare gas to harm our people.

“They should go and learn from Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited operating in Bonny Kingdom. NLNG gives Bonny Kingdom non-stop electricity that the people pay for. Why can’t they do so? We now want to give ourselves electricity; they should not stand on our way by refusing to give us our own money. They should not be clogs in the wheel of Isoko progress. How do they even sleep at night when they know that their host communities are in darkness while they flare gas every day to harm their hosts and the environment their hosts live?”

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