Stakeholders in oil host communities in Niger Delta have decried the delay in the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, two years after it was passed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari, saying most communities are not included in the whole process.
This was as women from oil host communities in Rivers State called for inclusion in all governance structures set up to implement the Act.
The stakeholders, who disclosed this at a round table discussion on Natural Resources Management and PIA, organised by Kebetkache Women Resource Centre, at the weekend, said despite the law stipulating a one-year timeframe for implementing the Act, those who are supposed to set machineries in motion for it are either slow or have not started at all two years after.
They called on the regulatory commission to sanction any settler who is part of the delay.
One of the participants, Pius Dukor, said: “I feel oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta should galvanise themselves because, over the last two years, the implementation of the PIA is yet to commence. This is a document that is law. After one year of its passage, its implementation should take off. So, this is the time these communities should ask why communities have not been getting what is due to them till now.”
The women, who argued that they are the direct custodians of biodiversity and victims of environmental pollution, said they have been relegated to the background by not having at least 30 per cent representation in all governance structures set up by the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to implement the Act.
Speaking in an interview, the project officer of the centre, Idongesit Smart, said it is fair that women be part of the decision-making process of the Act, which they consider to be hostile to women.
“We organised this training because most community people do not understand what the PIA entails. So, we are trying to break it down for them, because they are the ones directly feeling the effects of oil exploration,” she said.
Also, a participant, Evelyn Okon, said: “We are demanding that the PIA should be implemented in favour of women, because most of the things that are in the Act are anti-community and women. We want policymakers to look into the governance structure of the PIA to ensure that at least 30 per cent affirmative action will be met.
“Talking about the three per cent apex, the women do not know about what it entails, and this ought to be clarified for them to know because we want women to be involved in all decision bodies, starting from the community to the apex.”
Meanwhile a members of civil societiy groups Legborsi Pygbara, and Henry Efere, in their respective presentations, underscored deficiencies of the PIA.
Pygbara said the Act did not meet people’s expectations, faulting it on transparency and insufficiency of the three per cent allotted to host communities.[Guardian]