The members of the Oha in Council, an apex body of Ubima community in Rivers, have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) into law.
Mr Emma Amadi the Chairman of Ogbakor Ubima in Ikwere Local Government Area in Rivers, made the commendation on Tuesday in a briefing with journalists in Port Harcourt.
Amadi, also a member of the Board, Host Community Development Trust (HCDT), inaugurated by an indigenous oil company in Rivers, said that the implementation of the law would enhance peace and development for stakeholders.
All Grace Energy Limited (AGEL), operating in the Oil Mining Lease (OML17), on Jan. 20 inaugurated a seven-member board of the HCDT.
They were expected to work with the company on implementation of the PIA law.
Amadi said that the inauguration of the board of trustees by AGEL would also enhance the development of the host community.
He said that with the law, the community would be conscious of the security aspect of the community where the company operates because they were now stakeholders, unlike what obtained in the past.
“I commend All Grace Energy Limited for their efforts on the process of implementing the PIA law on remittance of three per cent yearly Operational Expenditure (OPEX) as stipulated by the Act to host communities.
“Before now, what we have is Memorandum of understanding (MOU), which is an agreement between the company and the host community which any of the party can go to court if the agreement is bridged.
“Now, it has become a law which the parties must obey.
“I can tell you that the passing of PIA Act which oil companies are to implement is a welcome development.
“This is because if the company bridges the law, we can confidently go to court and enforce that law; so, we thank President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Dandyson Onigah, the Chairman of the Board of HCDT, said it was a dawn of a new era where there would not be bickerings between oil companies and their host community.
According to him, with the stipulations of the PIA, the community can make plans toward sustainable development, knowing that there are funds for that purpose.
Onigah said that the board would work with the company to ensure peace for the company to operate freely to achieve its mandate.
The Executive Director Corporate Affairs and Development, AGEL, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, reassured of the company’s commitment to the development of its host community in compliance with the PIA.
Adenikinju noted that the inauguration of the seven-member board would provide a unique opportunity to begin a new era in the development of the community.
According to him, since the signing of the PIA in 2021, the company has ensured commitment to advancing understanding of the act, with regard to establishment of the HCDT.
Adenikinju said that compliance with the PIA would deepen the existing mutual relationship and trust-building between the company and the host community.
According to him,the PIA contains relevant provisions which form the basis of strong governance and management structure for the host communities’ development trust.