Seek palliatives to alleviate sufferings
By Michael Eboh
Oil-producing communities, under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSCON), on Tuesday, accused the Federal Government, their respective state governments, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and oil companies operating in the Niger Delta of abandoning the communities in the face of hardship brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Speaking to Newzandar News in Abuja, Chairman of HOSCON, Chief Mike Emuh, disclosed that since the lockdown began, no oil producing community had received the much-touted palliatives from any organization or government agency, while they are constantly inundated with news of oil firms operating in their areas making donations to other communities, states, governments and institutions.
According to him, poor and vulnerable people exist in abundance in the oil producing communities, but none of these communities had received any palliative from any individual, organization or government.
He stated that since the lockdown, the plight and living conditions of people in oil producing communities had worsened, noting that it has become imperative for government, the oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta and other government intervening agencies to immediately channel palliatives to these communities.
He, however, warned against channeling the palliatives through the state or local governments, noting that palliatives handed over to some state governments did not get to the grassroots, as they were shared to politicians and among party members.
He said the palliatives should, henceforth, be distributed through the leadership of the host communities, the clergy, traditional rulers and community leaders.
He said, “Members of host communities, as well as former agitators and ex-militants are not being considered by the governments of their various south-south states for palliatives during this period of the lockdown.
“So far, nothing has been received from the oil companies, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); from the Federal or state governments; the oil minerals producing commissions or anybody. They have neglected their host communities and these people, especially those living in the riverine communities are suffering. They should do something now with regards to palliatives.
“We want palliatives to be distributed, not through politicians, but through traditional rulers and through community leaders. This way, it would be more effective than distributing it through politicians, who are now giving it to their cronies; giving it to their party members. These palliatives should not be party issue.
“Palliatives should be distributed through traditional rulers, through clergymen of the various churches, through community leaders and not through politicians. HOSCON is calling on the international and indigenous oil companies to remember and patronise host communities where they operate. If there is anytime they should show any concern for the host communities, it is now.
“We are calling on all the state governments where there are oil producing areas commission, such as Delta State Oil Minerals Producing Area Commision (DESOPADEC), to act now. Up till now, there are no palliatives by any of these commissions to the oil producing communities. If these commissions were established to take care of the host communities, what are they waiting for?
“On behalf of these communities, HOSCON is calling on all the oil producing areas commission to cater for the interests and well-being of their host communities. It is because of things of this nature that we set up committees at the national, state, local government and the grassroots levels, so that they can reach out to our people in the host communities.
The same thing applies to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs; and others. We call on all of them to consider providing palliatives for people in the oil producing communities through the leadership of HOSCON.”