By Michael Eboh
According to a report by the Center for Social Studies and Development, all the systems for transferring benefits to oil-producing communities established by the Federal Government have not addressed exploitation, degradation and deprivation over the years.
During a webinar on Precept 5 of the Nigerian Natural Resources Charter, NNRC, Executive Director of CSSD, also called “We the People”, Mr. Ken Henshaw, identified benefit transfer systems to producing communities. oil to include the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC; Niger Delta Ministry; 13 percent of the Derivation Fund and the Ecological Fund, among others.
NNRC Precept 5 deals with local impact management and states that the government must seek opportunities for local benefits and account for, mitigate and offset the environmental and social costs of resource extraction projects.
However, according to Henshaw, in the area of local benefits, government-supervised benefit transfer systems to communities, including the NDDC and the Niger Delta Ministry, the 13% diversion fund and funds Ecological, they have failed to ensure that communities adequately benefit from natural resource gains.
He added that while Nigeria’s local content requirements hold great promise for increased benefit transfers to oil-producing communities, its actual implementation in the oil and gas sector was weak.
He argued that monitoring the utilization of the 13 percent Derivation was very difficult because the money is paid directly into the accounts of the different state governments.
Henshaw argued that while government-promoted systems had failed, by contrast, to the Global Memorandum of Understanding, GMoU, the structures created by oil companies with the participation of communities were rapidly becoming the most effective routes for transfer. of profits and participation in oil. producing communities
“Unfortunately, the fact that the agreements are not binding in many cases, and their discretionary implementation, is a significant weakness,” he said.
Furthermore, in the area of trust, Henshaw revealed that while the precepts require meaningful participation by all, managing the expectations of the affected communities and the way for the resolution of complaints and disputes, his findings revealed that it is not of deliberate and enforceable frameworks created by any level of government to ensure that affected communities participate meaningfully in decision-making on resource projects.
He said: “This has meant that the free, prior and informed consent of the communities is not sought or obtained. When efforts are made in this regard, there is a discretionary and “after the fact” component. The component of host community GDP that could have addressed these gaps and increased confidence did not make much progress in the period under review.
“In the area of local impact management, while the Nigerian Environmental Impact Assessment Act, EIA, required the project proponent to present plans to mitigate the adverse impacts of their proposed projects, there is no solid evidence to indicate that, When making decisions on resource projects, the government prefers the option of avoiding compensation costs and minimizing such negative costs.
“In at least one case, that of routine gas burning, the government seems more inclined to impose fines and extend fire burning targets than to impose its own gas burning dates. The ability of government regulatory agencies to enforce sanctions and carry out their functions adequately is very limited, mainly due to funding capacity and limitations. “
However, to address these delays, Henshaw called for a review of benefit transfer mechanisms, such as the NDDC and the 13% Derivation Fund; strengthening of monitoring agencies such as NOSDRA, so that they do their work effectively and incorporate critical issues in GMOs and ensure that they become law.
In addition, he called for the approval of the Decent Oil Industry Bill, GDP, which addresses the concerns of citizens; ensure that benefit-sharing mechanisms translate into tangible benefits for people in the region; implementation of the National Petroleum Policy; and build trust by guaranteeing meaningful participation in extractive resource projects, among others.