Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria rose up from a one-day capacity training in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital, with resolution calling on the Federal Government, oil company operators, oil host communities and other stakeholders to take urgent steps aimed at repositioning things for sustainable development of the sector .
The groups called for openness, transparency and community participation in the way and manner licensing of oil blocks and contracts are being awarded.
Picking holes with the secrecy surrounding awards of licences and contracts they said the situation created so much doubt and loss of confidence in the system as such has contributed in acrimony and restiveness amongst stakeholders.
They also called for reasonable end time lag for gas flaring and the need to extend the on-going UNEP clean-up exercise in Ogoni to other parts of the oil-rich Niger Delta, noting that most parts of the region suffer huge environmental degradation occasioned by oil exploitation activities.
According to them, restricting the clean-up exercise to Ogoni would not solve the environmental pollution in the region, adding that the evacuation of dried well and other oil installations should equally be extended to the illegal oil refineries since leaving such illegal platforms would continue to generate more pollution to the environment.
Other areas considered included, provision of alternative livelihood to people of the host communities whose means of economic survival, farming and fishing, had been destroyed, urgent implementation of the modular refineries promised and the need to involve host communities.
They blamed the crises and underdevelopment issues to fraudulent practices in the sector and emphasized that only transparent practices with adherence to global standard would bring about sustainability in the sector.
The groups noted further that transparent metering system in oil and gas should be urgently introduced to stop the large-scale fraudulent practices which had denied the country so much funds for her development.
One of the resource persons and Senior Project Officer, Environmental Centre for Oil Spills Dr. Benjamin Ubleble, said poor governance system in the nation’s oil and gas sector was responsible for the numerous social, health, environmental and economic challenges facing the nation and called for transparency in order to reposition things in the sector.
In his own submission, Senior Project Officer, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr. Kolawole Banwo, stressed the need for urgent passing into law of the Petroleum Industry Governance and Institutional Framework Bill (PIGB) to ginger confidence in the stakeholders.
He advocated for a bill that would promote investment drive to optimise revenue generation and smooth operation.
Coordinate of the programme, Peter Egbule, commended the participants and urged them to remain responsible advocates of non-tribal, non-religions interest, stressing that it is only open mindedness, devoid of selfish interest that could help the system.
He also enjoined them to strive beyond good decision and ideas but to take actions in order to make the needed impact.