Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Oil communities in Bayelsa under the auspices of Host Communities producing Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) have expressed concerns over alleged neglect in 13 per cent derivation revenue accruing to the state.
HOSTCOM concerns on use of the 13 per cent derivation funds accruing to Bayelsa compared to infrastructural deficit in oil communities was contained in an open letter to Gov Douye Diri of Bayelsa.
The open letter was signed by Pastor Samson Dabbey, Chairman HOSTCOM Bayelsa Chapter.
Dabbey said the letter followed an expanded meeting attended by key oil and gas stakeholders, Bayelsa people, and Friends of the State.
Also at the meeting were highly revered members of the Elders’ Council of the Bayelsa chapter of HOSTCOM.
The group expressed regrettable and disappointing over the abject neglect of oil rich communities in Bayelsa in spite of efforts by HOSTCOM to table the matter in a dialogue with the state government.
The letter pointed out that HOSTOM. remains peace-driven advocacy organization that bears the burden of the down-trodden, suffering-in-silence people of the communities.
The letter reads in part: “We are aware that it was to compensate for such woes suffered by oil communities that justifies the oil derivation principle encapsulated by the Constitution.
“Section 162, Sub-Section (2) of the 1999 Constitution explicitly states that the 13 per cent derivation fund is for the exclusive use of oil/gas producing communities.
“This is as compensation for loss of fishing rights and productive farm lands as a result of oil and gas exploration and production,” activities.
HOSTCOM regretted that it had been rebuffed by Diri’s amediatcommissioners and leadership of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly who pledged but failed to mediate.
Dabbey regretted that following several unreplied letters to the governor, they were left with no option that to resort to open letter and to invoke the Freedom of Information Act to demand accountability.
“In line with the FOI Act, we demand a detailed account of how the 13 per cent that had accrued to the states is spent, vis-a-vis it’s impact in the oil and gas producing communities in the state.
“We make bold to state that the misapplication of the 13 per cent derivation fund that has accrued to the state from successive administrations to date is unacceptable.
“The infrastructural development of the oil and gas producing communities are being arrested and the suffering of the people has continued to be unattended to, up till this moment,” HOSTCOM stated.
The group noted that the solution to the anomaly is the establishment of the Bayelsa State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (BASOPADEC).
According to HOSTCOM, establishment of BASOPADEC will halt misapplication of the fund and have the injustice corrected in line with Section 162, Sub-Section 2 of the 1999 Constitution.
The group informed the governor that they have officially complained in writting to President, Bola Tinubu to withold the monthly 13 per cent derivation revenue from September.
The group urged Tinubu to withhold the derivation revenue pending the institutionalisation of the governance framework for judicious deployment of the funds.
“We are constrained to resorting to this constitutional and peaceful approach collectively and in good faith as an advocacy organization in furtherance of our Article of Faith.
“This to pursue the course of the down-trodden Host Communities whose right to the 13 per cent derivation fund has been denied them for so long in Bayelsa State.
“Leadership is a sacred trust and transparency, accountability and selflessness is the Hallmark which we seek for in all our leaders in Bayelsa State,” HOSTCOM said.