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Friday, 1 August 2014

Nigeria: Experts advocate oil firms cordiality with host communities

As Nigeria continues to battle insecurity caused by Boko Haram insurgents, oil and gas experts have advocated a more cordial and harmonious relationship between multi-national oil companies operating in the country and the host communities in order to prevent induced violent crisis. They also urged the Federal government to enact laws to protect the rights and interest of the host communities and the need for oil companies to relocate their headquarters to the areas of operation.

These were part of the resolutions at a one day conference on ‘awareness of oil and gas development activities and its implication on communities’ organised by OPL 274 host communities in Delta North, in conjunction with Pan Ocean Oil Corporation, held yesterday at Owa Royal Palace, in Ika North East local Government of the State. A development activist and legal practitioner, Dr. Akpos Mudiaga Odje, in a 17-page presentation said there was urgent need for the enactment of ‘laws specifically to protect the interest and right of host communities’.

Odje said, “there is still no express or implied contract between oil companies and host communities”, saying, “at best what we have is usually a memorandum of understanding, as there is urgent need for insertion of dispute and crisis avoidance clause in the MoU to avoid the unnecessary frustration that follows litigation and violence between HOSTCOM and oil companies.” He said most of the violence and destruction witnessed at the areas of operation can be traceable to the neglect and failure by these oil companies to carry out their social responsibility, as “the communities are reduced to a state of pandemic poverty and arrested development, thus prompting violent uprising and shutting down of oil rigs and productions”.
He pointed out that the relocation of oil company head offices to their areas of operation would create development and employment to teeming youths in the region, as that would promote peaceful co-existence between the communities and the oil companies.