Akwa Ibom Oil Communities call for Review of Payments to NDDC, Prefer Payments to Host Communities Trust
…Bemoan underdevelopment despite $5.8bn paid to NDDC
By Ekemini Simon
Oil communities in Akwa Ibom State have called for a review of Section 14 of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act 2000 which places the management of the three (3) percent mandatory payments from oil and gas companies on NDDC.
The communities insist the management of the payment should rather be under a Trust in a manner similar and complementary to the Host Communities provisions in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.
In a Communique issued at the end of a Town Hall Meeting, organised in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, by Policy Alert, in partnership with BudgIT Foundation, the community representatives said their call is predicated on the gross level of their communities underdevelopment despite $5.8bn in mandatory payments made to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by oil and gas companies between 2011 and 2020.
The stakeholders lamented over what they described as “high level poverty and neglect” in the region owing to the failure of the NDDC to carry out its mandate to facilitate the sustainable development of their communities despite multiple revenue streams, including the mandatory three (3) percent.
The communities observed that they have been excluded from the NDDC’s needs assessment and budgetary decision making processes while decrying the high rate of abandoned projects in their communities.
They urged the oil companies to promptly publish their annual budgets and their payments to the Commission on their websites each year to enable civil society and communities to monitor their compliance and also hold the NDDC accountable.
The stakeholders further called for disclosure of the detailed NDDC budget and asked the federal government to discontinue the practice of sending the NDDC budget late after the rest of the annual budget had been deliberated in the National Assembly as the practice discourages citizen participation and accountability. They also tasked the Commission to reactivate the now moribund NDDC Project Management information system.
Making their position known on the report of the NDDC forensic audit submitted to President Muhhamadu Buhari since 2022, the Meeting called on the President to make good his vow to recover every stolen kobo and ensure that the law catches up with all those found culpable.
Earlier, the Senior Programme Officer of Policy Alert, Mfon Gabriel, said: “Data from NEITI Oil and Gas audit reports show that the NDDC has received about 5.8 billion dollars as mandatory three percent payments by oil and gas payments in the 10 years between 2011 and 2020, in addition to other funding streams.
“Yet the Commission has no transparent system for managing these revenue flows or accounting for their utilisation. Neither have the people of the region seen tangible development projects on the ground to justify these huge inflows.”
The NDDC Act 2000, the law establishing the Commission, requires that oil producing and gas processing companies operating in the region contribute 3 percent of their annual budgets to the Commission’s Fund for the development and well being of the region.