By Akanimo Sampson
Chairman of the Niger Delta Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, NDPCRC, a presidential panel, Senator David Brigidi, says they are tackling thew core conflict issues in the oil and gas region.
”As a presidential panel, we are doing our best to ensure that the oil-bearing communities and the Federal Government, and the oil corporationms reach a compromise for the return of sustainable peace in the oil region”, Brigidi said.
The NDPCRC chairman who was speaking in an interview with a panel of Journalists for Niger Delta, JODEL, a media group concerned with the affairs of the oil and gas region, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Wednesday, said so far all the stakeholders in the area have been very ”frank, and transparent”.
Continuing, Brigidi added, ”we will not betray the confidence reposed in us. In returning the Niger Delta on the path of sustainable peace, we will also ensure that the peoples of the region get justice. Fundamentally, the people are asking for socio-economic, political, and environmental justice.”
JODEL however, reports that the peoples of the Niger Delta are still insisting on direct allocation of derivation funds to oil-bearing communities rather than state governments. This for them, is the panacea to pipeline vandalisation, hostage-taking and attacks on oil facilities in the area.
Findings by the media group tend to show that oil-bearing communities are eager to protect oil facilities if they directly received monthly oil revenue derivation, based on the outputs from their localities.
As part of the peace efforts in the region, the people are calling for the establishment of Host Community Commission in each of the nine oil- producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River , Delta, Edo , Imo, Ondo, and Rivers, to receive that derivation money directly.
For the people, direct payment of derivation to host communities is the greatest insurance to all that is happening: hostage-taking, pipeline vandalisation. Their argument i9s that if host communities know that at the end of the month, there is money coming directly to them, everybody will go and protect his own flow station.
Although the Senator Brigidi panel is yet to take a decision on this clamour, activists in the region tend to agree that if the communities get the oil revenue directly, they will protect the facilities because that is what they should do.
This agitation appears to be receiving the support of the Revenue Commission. The commission is making moves to pay the oil communities their due directly.
Meanwhile, the NDPCRC train moves to Ondo and Edo states this weekend to engage stakeholders in talks. Last week, they were in Akwa Ibom.