Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Some communities within the Estuary Areas (EA) oilfields operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) have kicked against moves by some communities to resist clustering for development projects.
The Host Community Development Trust (HCDT) is the governance template recognised by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.
The Act mandates oil and gas firms to set aside three per cent of their operating expenses for the development of host communities to be managed by the HCDT.
In a statement in Yenagoa on Monday by some Chiefs and leaders of Amatu II Community led by Chief Paul Oweipade, said the purported request for a separate HCDT is coming as a surprise to the people of the EA host communities especially Amatu II Community who are well known for their prowess in multinational oil companies, government and community relations and administrations.
Oweipade said: “Amatu I, Amatu II, Besangbene, Letugbene, Azamabiri, Orobiri, and Ogbeintu communities seeking for a separate HCDT, should be ignored because the people of Amatu II situated directly opposite the sea Eagle, whom the acronym EA, was founded has never sat in a meeting to deliberate and agree to go into a separate HCDT, with the aforementioned communities.
“Amatu II community is not a ghost community neither a fishing camp that her leaders can sit in a hotel room or drinking bars to take decisions and expect such decisions to be binding on every person.
“To this purpose the good people of Amatu II are stating it categorically that they are not a party to any separation, so SPDC and the general public should take note.
“You cannot shift the goalpost in the middle of a game, because the said advocates of separation were those who have already recommended their BOT members to the 16-member community HCDT board, where elections of chairman was conducted and concluded but all because their unpopular candidate lost out and instead of accepting defeat, they are opting for separation, which is childish, anti-developmental, un-educative, and unprofessional, but to crown it all for selfish aggrandizement which we the people of Amatu II will not sit down and watch.
“Even if the good people of Amatu II deem it fit to seek a separation it will not be with the community like Azamabiri whose existence is questionable. Let us lecture the advocates of the separation theory, if truly such advocates mean good for the Iduwini kingdom, clusters or institutions or associations are found on either ancestry backgrounds or common laws benefits or coercion, but since we have been put together as a group based on common law’s benefits by the government and SPDC we are good with it.
“But if this association of common law’s benefits fails in future, we cannot practise other common law benefits, instead we will embrace ancestry backgrounds which Azamabiri, Orobiri and Ogbeintu do not belong to and will not ever belong to, because we are Iduwini people.
“Interestingly, if truly the people of Amatu II community want to seek a separate PIA it will be an Iduwini all-inclusive PIA, where the following communities and others of Iduwini origin are to be host, namely: Amatu I, Amatu II, Amatu-agoliyo, Ikeka-ama, Ingodiama, Igunugbene, Lagos-ama, Besangbene, Letughene 1, Letughene 2, Aghoro 1, Aghoro 2, Bakiri-ama, Iyapregha-zion and others of Iduwini origin not these other communities like Azamabiri.”
The PIA provides for the incorporation of Host Community Development Trust, HCDT, in oil and gas-producing communities where oil/gas companies are mandated to make an annual contribution to the HCDT of an amount equal to 3% of the company’s actual annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year, for developmental projects in the host communities.
It could be recalled that some community leaders have reportedly informed SPDC that they would not want to be clustered alongside other communities of the EA oil field under one HCDT, a demand that has been rejected by a section of chiefs and elders of Amatu II Community. Officials of SPDC declined comments on the disputes which have delayed the inauguration of the HCDT whereas other Trusts were Inaugurated in May 2023.