Development Trusts Funds: Host Communities decry deprivations, desecrations by oil operators

The Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HostCom), have bemoaned deprivations and desecration by the activities of oil operators/settlors who short-change the communities and create divide-and-rule systems to flourish.

A Settlor is any holder of an interest in an Oil Prospecting Licence, an Oil Mining Lease, a Petroleum Prospecting Licence, or a Petroleum Mining Lease whose area of operations is in or appurtenant to any community or communities falling within the definition of host communities.

The HostCom also raised concern over inability of the settlors to finalise the Host Communities Development Trusts funds (HCDT), created to address the concerns of the host communities and stop the activities of the Shylocks and their collaborators.

Dr Benjamin Tamaranebi, National President, HostCom, made this known at a news conference on Friday in Abuja.

“For over two years of the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, the settlors remain comfortable.

“Till date, only 76 Development Trusts have been registered, only 45 accounts created, only 38 accounts funded and more than 100 Development Trusts yet not registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“What an irony is this, and it was even after the pronouncement of NUPRC’s revocation of Licenses notice in September 2023 that prompted this number,” he lamented.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that NUPRC had threatened to revoke the licences of oil operators or settlors who failed to remit the 3 per cent statutory fees to oil communities before the end of September 2023.

Tamaranebi, therefore, said it was not surprised that they were fighting back, using every available means, including trying to confuse and deceive the public with concocted narratives, adding that it would not be swayed by their mischief.

However, he said, over the years oil operators and industry players had pumped millions of naira in the Host communities before the advent of PIA 2021, but it could not see any meaningful projects initiated by these players rather the communities remained in a sorry state.

He said the HostComply which was put on the firing line by industry players was the ultimate to checkmate the activities of the settlors and HCDTs both their annual OPEX due for every Trust.

He said the setting up of HostComply was in furtherance to the provision of the PIA 2021, Chapter 3, section 235 (1).

This, he said, mandated that: “The settlor shall incorporate HCDT (in this Act referred to as “the trust”) for the benefit of the host communities for which the settlor is responsible”.

“Section 235(4) of the Act states: “The settlor shall, for the purpose of setting up the trust, in consultation with the host communities, appoint and authorise a board of trustees which shall be registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission as a corporate body under the Companies and Allied Matters Act”.

“The HostComply is meant to offer comfort to the HCDT by providing them with a robust technological tool to interface and engage with the settlors and manage projects in their respective communities professionally while meeting global best practices,” he said.

The HostCom president expressed satisfaction over NUPRC’s effort as the regulator by putting everything in place so that the overall intendment of the PIA on this score is effectively realised for the benefit of those envisaged.

The PIA 2021 is a public document. All the Regulations enacted by NUPRC are in furtherance of the provisions of the Act. It is a public knowledge, which can be attested to by relevant stakeholders that all regulations issued by the commission derive from stakeholder consultations.

“They all passed through all necessary legal crucibles and were gazetted before inauguration for implementation,” he said.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria