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  • ABUJA SHOW-OF-SHAME: ‘Civil war’ over PIB rages, as oil communities’ factions blow hot
    • Host Communities, CSOs reject PIBHow row blew open

    • We are the authentic leadership of host communities – Emuh, HOSCON leader

    • They have been dismissed – Tamaranebi, HOSTCOM boss

    • Groups disagree on 2.5% production quantum, 10% equity

    By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Jimitota Onoyume, Egufe Yafugborhi and Chioma Onuegbu

    OBSERVING two Niger Delta leaders, National Chairman, Host Communities of Nigeria (Producing Oil and Gas), HOSCON, Bishop Mike Emuh, and his Host Communities of Nigeria (Producing Oil and Gas), HOSTCOM, counterpart, Chief Benjamin Style Tamaranebi, exchange blows at the hallowed chamber of the House of Representatives, penultimate Thursday, was unexpected to many people of Niger Delta, but insiders knew it was a disaster waiting to happen.

    Over the years, both groups have been at each other’s throats, but what was imprecise was the time and place the inflaming crisis would explode.

    The public hearing of the House of Representatives on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, 2020 provided a textbook opening.

    Bystanders saw two men fighting with standing Tamaranebi manifestly having an upper hand, pounding Emuh sitting on the chair.

    Emuh managed to return some of the blows in defense.

    But beyond the spectacle is a no love lost relationship between HOSCON and HOSTCOM who are supposed to represent the interests of oil communities in Niger-Delta. HOSCON was founded in 2002 by Niger Delta leader and traditional Prime Minister (Bolowei) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State, Chief Wellington Okrika.

    He led the group until 2007 when he was appointed the pioneer Chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Development Commission, DESOPADEC.

    HOSCON leadership fell on Chief Alfred Bubor, now late, who led the group for eight years, that is until 2015, but certain things ensued during his leadership when the group was seriously polarized in terms of conceptual bent, changed from HOSCON to HOSTCOM without the say-so of Okrika and others, and the battle of who succeeds (Bubor) between Emuh and Tamaranebi finally widened the gulf.

    With the division, the groups have taken dissimilar positions on the PIB 2020 impelling the Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Ewang, to hold a truce meeting.

    Okrika, the two combatants, Tamaranebi and Emuh, and a host of others spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the host communities’ saga.

    I was sitting down when Tamarenbi came to fight me – Emuh

    Talking on what happened in Abuja and related issues, Emuh said: “What happened at the National Assembly is an act that is lamentable, it is extremely crude.

    “The fact is that if HOSCON and HOSTCOM have division or faction, it is not a dirty linen that should be washed outside.

    “It is not something one will rise up and start beating the second person, not fighting but beating me.

    “We did not exchange greeting or words. HOSCON was called upon to make presentation. Maybe he thought I was the one going to speak. I was sitting down. Udurhie I, Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, Delta state, HRM King Obukowho Monday Whiskey was by me. A bishop was also sitting by right-hand side. I was in the centre when he came and did all he did to me.  I never knew he was coming to attack me. That is what happened.”

    Faction emerged in 2019

    Narrating how factions emerged in oil communities, he said, “We, the host communities, as founded by Chief Wellington Okirika and since 2018 when we upgraded the Board of Trustees, we did not have faction.

    “This faction came out of us in 2019 and has caused a lot of damage to host communities, Niger Delta and the Federal Government.

    Allegations

    “Look at what happened recently. The same Benjamin Style went to remove Diete Spiff, claiming he is no longer the Chairman of HOSCON Board of Trustees (BOT) and also removed those of us that have been there as BOT members.

    “And he came forth with people who we do not know, who have never been executive members as BOT members and came out with a certificate bearing the same old number, which is to say that the old one we are having is what he is also having.

    READ ALSO: Communal clashes: Akwa Ibom govt warns against further destruction of lives, properties

    “Now, look at what he did the other Thursday at the National Assembly. The same Benjamin Style has taken me to DSS Asaba, DSS Port Harcourt, DSS Yenagoa, DSS headquarters in Abuja. What is he looking for?

    “As you speak to me today (last Monday), he has taken me and Chief Wellington Okirika, the founder, to High Court 2 in Warri. So, I do not know, yes, there is division but that does not call for do-or-die or the assault on me”.

    Registration

    Sunday Vanguard asked Emuh if HOSCON is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, as it was alleged that HOSTCOM is the properly registered body of host communities.

    He responded: “The truth is that we were officially invited by the House of Representatives Committee on PIB to come and make presentation.

    “We were told that only two gate passes will be given to each association and so I was given two, one for myself and one for Engineer Okoro, our presenter.

    “After calling other groups, they now called host communities, each group is allotted 10 minutes, host communities was 40 minutes and so the National Assembly had done their best knowing that host communities would not just be one or two or three and those who made presentation for host communities were up to four, apart from my group.

    “The Itsekiri, Ogulagha people, other groups made their presentations; host communities cover all the groups from oil communities.”

    Emuh started fight – Tamaranebi

    In his own narration, Tamaranebi said the altercation in Abuja was orchestrated by those who want to ensure that the voice of the host communities was shut out of the processes leading to the passage of the PIB.

    His words: “It was a planned attack on my person and host communities’ views at the Green Chamber.

    “I was called to make my presentation and, on my way out, he (Emuh) held my royal wrapper to strip me naked and, when I turned, he held unto my beads to strangle me to the point that the beads cut loose to release me. I was left with no other option than to defend myself.

    “I am not just a chief. I am a regent in my kingdom in Bayelsa State. I cannot start a fight. I was called upon to make a presentation and, on my way going, he (Emuh) held by my wrapper, it is a taboo, you cannot hold a high chief in that manner. “He tried to pull it off and I almost fell but regained my balance and he held my beads, I cannot watch and wait for him to disgrace me. I have to do what I have to do to save myself, he started the fight”.

    On the claim that HOSCON has been disbanded, Tamarenebi said: “The issue of authentic host communities had long been resolved by the Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON.

    “HOSCON has been disbanded since December 3, 2018 and, on January 31, 2019, the revered Oba of Benin refused the offer of grand patron which Bishop Emuh offered him until there was unity among host communities.”

    Asked if Okrika, the founder of host communities’ body, was in the BOT reconstituted by his group, he said: “If Okrika formed host communities, why was he not a member of the Board in 2010.

    “They said HOSTCOM forged certificate. I was the National Vice Chairman and Mike Emuh parading himself today was our Public Relations Officer in 2010.

    “We were at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, today (Thursday) and I asked them if they said that somebody changed the name of HOSCON to HOSTCOM, and if so who changed it.

    “I repeat Mike Emuh has been dismissed from host communities because of his activities. He was suspended and later dismissed. “The Constitution stipulates who has the power to remove the BoT, that authority was exercised because the former BoT was taking sides with Emuh.

    “We removed them. Diete-Spiff is still a member of HOSCOM even though he was removed as BOT Chairman; a former Minister of Petroleum Affairs, HM Edmund Dakoru, is now the Chairman, HOSTCOM BOT”.

    Conflicting positions on 2.5% production quantum, 10% equity

    Emuh disagreed that HOSCON and HOSTCOM are on the same page on PIB 2020.

    His words: “No, no, no, no, no, Benjamin Style and other HOSTCOM officials had made a presentation at the Senate agitating for 10 per cent equity.

    “That suggestion is nonsense, rubbish. The word 10 per cent equity supposes that whatever is to be done, if it is worth 100 billion dollars, what host communities will contribute is 10 per cent. On equity, you are a contributor; we do not have the money.

    “And the National Assembly, together with the Deputy Senate President and Minister of State for Petroleum, we have all agreed on what should be done. We agreed on 2.5 per cent of production quantum, not on equity, 2.5 per cent of production quantum, that is, whatever an oil company produces in a community, 2.5 per cent goes to that community, which means that oil community decides what happens to its 2.5 per cent.

    “What 2.5 per cent equity are they talking about, equity on what, is it equity on modular refinery, gas plant or what? Are they saying that are going to ask us to bring our contribution for them to operate?”

    But Tamaranebi, in a counter position, fired back, “They (Emuh and associates) never stand for the host communities, rather they are looking for their gain.

    “The pain of the over 60 years marginalization, deprivation, neglect and 10 per cent equity shareholding to benefit our communities matters to us and not the Federal Government’s  ‘Greek gift’ which we know will not work.

    “Just think of three per cent to NDDC, are they faithful in their remittance? So we must be wise.

    “The Minister of State Petroleum is speaking the mind of the Federal Government and oil companies though he is from the region and I will not blame him because he is acting for the government. “It is our duty and right to defend our communities’ benefit even when l know that where he (Minister) comes from (Nembe Kingdom) has oil and gas, and over 80,000 barrels of crude daily leaving the kingdom and if 10 per cent equity shareholding is granted to the kingdom, it is far better than 2.5 per cent OPEX which is a Greek gift.

    “We have submitted our memorandum and we have been doing this advocacy for host communities at public hearings from the time of our former Chairman, High Chief A. M. Bubor, of blessed memory”.

    “Our position on the 10 per cent equity shareholding is irrevocable as that is the demand of oil and gas bearing communities and this will not change.”

    Scrapping or no scrapping NDDC

    Maintaining that HOSTCOM scandalously demanded for scrapping of NDDC and it was published in the print media, Emuh told Sunday Vanguard: “ The  act that Benjamin performed at the National Assembly was not as a result of argument on the bill, no.

    “We have not made any presentation there. He has a limitation of education, which was why he said at the National Assembly that NDDC should be scrapped. Why should you ever think about scrapping NDDC?”

    But the HOSTCOM President replied: “We are not opposed to the existence of NDDC but the Commission has failed on its mandate and is now a political tool. “Therefore, NDDC should be restructured. The Oil Production Development Areas Commission is the key to oil and gas bearing communities that will deliver sustainable development.”

    Division on 13 per cent derivation

    Emuh also charged at Tamaranebi’s HOSTCOM for calling for 13 per cent derivation to be channeled directly to host communities, saying,” He has also said that 13 per cent derivation should be channeled to host communities in the PIB, that it should be Host Communities Development Commission and it should be paid directly to the Commission.

    “That is an error. 13 per cent derivation is a law that has been established. NDDC is a law that has been established. PIB law is yet to be established; so these are his deficiencies.

    “I want to say that NDDC should stay, nobody should scrap NDDC. You can only amend the law. At the same time, 13 per cent derivation, you can only review and you do not have to talk about taking it away from governors. PIB is that if Host Communities Development Commission is established, let the host communities do the nomination of directors and commissioners, not politicians, which is our stand.”

    ‘We don’t want to see the word ‘settlor’’

    Tamaranebi also said: “HOSTCOM also wants expunged from PIB Sections 115 and 117.

    “Section 115 talks about settlors, which is that oil companies are settlors in our land. “How can they be settlors in our land, they should remain as tenants. Section 177 talks about giving them Certificate of Occupancy. “We want these things expunged from the bill. A settlor in their words cannot be a landlord, we do not want to see that word settlor.”

    Read next Sunday the genesis of crisis and more on the situation in Niger Delta oil communities

    Vanguard News Nigeria

    The post ABUJA SHOW-OF-SHAME: ‘Civil war’ over PIB rages, as oil communities’ factions blow hot appeared first on Vanguard News.


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