By Ifeanyi Izeze
Despite the evangelical outreach mission of the Acting President, Prof Yemi Isinbajo to the Niger Delta region earlier in the year, nothing seem to have changed in the rabid manner certain people perceive and continue to treat the people of the oil producing communities with outright disdain and mendaciousness.
How else can anyone explain that by deliberate design, the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the House of Representatives has set out to redefine the concept of oil host communities to include select few non-oil producing states, if not to say that there are people who are hell-bent on denying the oil producing and the environmentally devastated Niger Delta the full benefits of the proposed oil host communities fund?
Titled: ‘A Bill for an Act to provide for a framework relating to Petroleum Host Community’s participation, cost and benefit sharing amongst the government, petroleum exploration companies and petroleum host communities and for related matters,’ the new PIB, read for the second time last week at the House of Representatives, provides that state where there is a refinery, petroleum depot or where pipeline passes through will draw from the anticipated oil host communities’ funds specifically Kaduna and Kano were boldly classified as oil host community states.
As stated, “Host communities include both where oil is produced and where pipeline passes as well as where there’s oil installation which can constitute danger to human beings.
“The core places where crude oil is mined has different percentage from where flow stations are. All the communities on the pipelines route are also classified as oil host communities, but they’re graded in the bill as they are areas we call impacted communities because when there is vandalism, communities where the pipeline passes suffers, not the communities where the oil is produced.”
The question we should ask ourselves particularly those representing us at the National Assembly is: The concept of oil host communities is it an upstream or a downstream definition? Refining and the associated transport operations are they upstream or downstream activities? If every state hosting a refinery, depot and products pipeline routes is agreed to be oil host community state, then every local government, town and even villages should equally be classified as oil host because there is no LGA, town/village that does not have oil operations and facilities in terms of filling stations including surface tanks that can constitute danger to human lives. You see the short –sightedness of this evil redefinition?
Let’s look at it: As proposed, the federal government shall pay to Fund the following monies: 10 percent of the total amount payable to a state government from its derivation revenue and 20 percent of an aggregate of the total royalties accruing to the federal government to be evenly distributed by all concerned local governments. Now, Derivation and Royalties, are they terms associated with oil producing areas or pipeline routes and products depots? Why can’t this nation be serious and sincere in anything it sets out to do?
It is not enough to feign that the benefits to be derived by pipeline and depot communities will be less than those for communities where oil exploration and production take place. The question is: who determines what goes where. Is it not this same bunch of people that is bent on stripping the oil producing host communities of the Niger Delta any advantage in the proposed Fund?
Curiously Kaduna and Kano were prominently mentioned as oil host community states because the former hosts a refinery and the later a petroleum products depot. If this is not the height of insensitivity to the plight of the oil Niger Delta one wonders how else to describe it. If the federal government is mandated to pay 50 percent of its receipts from levies for pipelines to communities hosting such facilities, while lump the pipeline communities together with areas that bear the full brunt of oil exploration and production activities in addition to also hosting pipelines?
Now, according to the NNPC, Nigeria has over 5000 kilometres of products pipeline network and twenty-one (21) government-owned storage depots plus the over 83 depots owned by Independent marketers across the country.
The PPMC pipeline network in Nigeria is classified into five basic systems: 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2E, with several arteries as extension of the basic systems.
The system 2A network runs from Warri- Benin (90km); Benin-Ore (114 km); and Ore-Mosimi (151 km). There is also the 107 km 2AX Benin-Auchi artery.
The 2B system runs from Atlas Cove through Mosimi, Ibadan up to Ilorin with over 200 km pipeline networks plus the arteries to different parts of Lagos from the Atlas Cove.
While the system 2C line is a crude oil pipeline of about 606 km running from Warri to Kaduna, 2CX is a 109 km product pipeline running from Enugu to Auchi with three legs: Auchi-Suleja (250km); Suleja to Minna (90km); Suleja to Kaduna (150 km).
The 140 km System 2D runs from Kaduna through Zaria to Kano with several sub systems in this unit: The 177 km Zaria-Gusau line; the 165 km Kaduna –Jos; the 265 km Jos-Gombe; and the 297 km Gombe- Maidugari.
There is also the 210 km system 2E running from Port Harcourt-Aba-Enugu with extensions: Enugu -Makurdi (180 km); and Makurdi-Yola (470 km) arteries.
So what makes Kaduna and Kano oil host community states and not the other states where we have depots and pipeline routes? If Kano is accepted as oil host state, why not Enugu, FCT Benue, Kwarra, Oyo, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, and Adamawa also classified as such? Benue and Enugu states have more pipeline stretch than Kano and even Kaduna and they also host one major NNPC depot each.
There are fleets of existing funds set out to address issues of pollution as a result of pipeline vandalism and consequent spillage, the only reason being adduced by proponents of this redefinition of oil host communities. So why not strengthen those funds and draw from there to address whatever pollution incident that may arise from pipeline tampering? What is ecological fund for? And by the way since when did it become the duty of the federal government to clean up spills from either pipelines or other oil facilities? The responsibility to clean up oil spillages and remediation of the impacted sites has always been that of the company from whose facilities the oil spilled.
So if vandals tamper with PPMC product pipelines, should the company be running to draw from the Oil Host Communities Fund to clean up the mess? If that be, do we still expect the foreign upstream operators such Shell, Agip, Exxon/Mobil amongst other to be held responsible for spills from their facilities either wellhead, flowstations or crude trunk lines?
If out of wicked and selfish mindsets certain people in the National Assembly taking instructions from their parts of Nigeria decide to redefine the concept of Oil Host Communities to include all states affected by every aspect of petroleum operations and not just the oil producing areas, it all means that the 36 states of the federation including the FCT should be included. In other words, there is no need to even create the “Oil Host Communities Fund” in the new PIB because this is a backyard way of saying everybody in the country is entitled to share from the proposed fund.
Is this the way we want to go? Me i de laugh o! God bless Nigeria!!
(IFEANYI IZEZE writes from Abuja: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)