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Oil firms may have to draw up new MoUs, says Delta HOSTCOM boss

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A Niger Delta community in Bayelsa

Oil and gas producing companies in Delta State may have to draw up new memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with host communities.

This was stated by the newly sworn in Delta State chairman of the Oil and Gas Producing Host Communities (HOSTCOM), Evangelist Gabriel Isibeluo. He also declared his intention get them to relate with their host communities in the best international standard.

Isibeluo, who also vowed to run an all-inclusive administration, made the pledged at Warri, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, just as he explains his plans for the oil producing communities in the state, and the challenges inherent.

According to him, “My first priority is to foster unity among the oil and gas producing communities; I will also call our brothers who for reasons best known to them chose to be on the other side, to come on board and avoid being in the hands of those trying to destabilize us, We should be together. Our unity should be our strength.”

Isibeluo insists that, “As a pressure group, we are supposed to speak with one voice. But I came in to meet dissent voices, which prompted me to work towards a united family. So far I have recorded about ninety percent achievement in that area already.

“During my tenure, HOSTCOM is going to be real stake holders. That should be our focus. We should be able to produce board members. Before now it has been difficult producing members that will represent us at the DESOPADEC board. That has been a challenge, but I know, with the cooperation of all, and those of the royal fathers, especially, we will get over it.”

On the rough deals that oil and gas producing communities continue to suffer under most of the oil and gas producing companies, Isibeluo assured thus: “That will be a thing of the past. Even their so called MoU (memorandum of Understanding), is nothing to write home about.

It will be revisited as they have kept undercutting us. If I am a stakeholder, you don’t decide what you have to give me, and how to use it. It should be a win-win situation. I commend some companies in Ndokwa area, especially those at Emu Ebendo.

That will be our model. You can see the impact of that two percent of every crude oil gotten from their land on the community.

That should be our focus. That is why we have to get to all stakeholders that we can muster all we can, for ‘an act to provide for a framework relating to petroleum producing host communities participation, Cost and benefits sharing among the government, petroleum exploration companies and petroleum host communities on related matter (HBB879)’, that is about being passed.

“We are meeting and the principal agenda will be what should be our position and expectations, and we will pursue it with all vigour. Public hearing is coming from Moday 23, to Thursday 26 April, 2018.”

On the politicization of the group, he vows to tackle the situation with tact. His words: “All humans are political animals, but as a pressure group, we must be apolitical. However, we must be ready to partner with a progressive government.
We can’t get it right being antagonistic for the sake of it, rather we will go into a constructive engagement that will result in acceptable template”.

He said one of the things he wants to be remembered for is that, “In the next four years, God willing, projects will have to emanate from communities into the DESOPADEC budget; and a proper execution of such process also.

I want to also appeal to both the government and DESOPADEC board that there should be deliberate efforts by government to empower the host communities’ members. I am not talking of giving physical cash, but engage them with micro-credits for farming or agricultural loans.

“They will do well with that. Apart from that they should encourage marketable skills, not barbing saloons, which is rubbish. When we talk about marketable skills, we are talking about welding and fabrications, structural engineering, instrumentations, carpentry and upholstery, and fashion design, electrical installations and its kinds. These are what I am talking about. I sue for their cooperation, so that we can enjoy it right”.


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