Oil Communities Decry Underdevelopment Despite $5.8bn Paid NDDC In 9yrs

people fetching water from stream polluted by oil spill

By Stephanie Odiase

Despite the $5.8 billion mandatory payments made to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by oil and gas companies between 2011 and 2020, communities in Nigeria’s oil producing region have continued to complain of underdevelopment.

Communities in Akwa Ibom State bemoaned their plight during a Town Hall Meeting organised in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, by Policy Alert in partnership with BudgIT Foundation.

Speaking at the meeting, Senior Programme Officer of Policy Alert, Mfon Gabriel, said: “Data from NEITI Oil and Gas audit reports show that the NDDC has received about $5.8 billion as mandatory 3percent payments by oil and gas companies in the 10years between 2011 and 2020, in addition to other funding streams.

“Yet the Commission has no transparent system for managing these revenue flows or accounting for their utilisation. Neither have the people of the region seen tangible development projects on the ground to justify these huge inflows,” Mfon lamented.

Stakeholders at the meeting lamented over what they described as “high level poverty and neglect” in the  region owing to the failure of the NDDC to carry out its mandate to facilitate the sustainable development of their communities despite multiple revenue streams, including the mandatory 3percent.

They also complained about their exclusion from the NDDC’s needs assessment and budgetary decision making processes while decrying the high rate of abandoned projects in their communities.

In a communique issued at the end of the Town Hall Meeting, community representatives called for a review of Section 14 of the NDDC Act 2000 to place the management of the 3percent mandatory payments under a Trust in a manner similar and complimentary to the Host Communities provisions in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021. They also urged the oil companies to promptly publish their annual budgets and their payments to the Commission on their websites each year to enable civil society and communities to monitor their compliance and also hold the NDDC accountable.

They further called for disclosure of the detailed NDDC budget and asked the federal government to discontinue the practice of sending the NDDC budget late after the rest of the annual budget had been deliberated in the National Assembly as the practice discourages citizen participation and accountability. They also tasked the Commission to reactivate the now moribund NDDC Project Management information system, among other demands.

Extractive360 reports that the NDDC Act 2000, requires that oil producing and gas processing companies operating in the region contribute 3percent of their annual budgets to the Commission’s Fund for the development and wellbeing of the region.

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