On 21st and 22nd of November 2022, 47 community members (42 women and 5 men) gathered at Luton Park in Uyo in a 2-day training on the Petroleum Industry Act; there were also 3 media persons in the programme. The training was a component of the Kebetkache Community Media Collaboration for Climate Justice Project. The community members discussed how the extractive industry affects women and men differently, and how women are most often the worst hit. This is because of women’s distinct gender roles and responsibilities in the household and community; different access to, use of and control of resources; separate needs and interests; and varying levels of access to and influence in decision-making processes.
Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre through Community Media Collaboration for Climate Justice (CMCCJ) Project, with the support of OXFAM Nigeria aims to build the capacity of frontline communities and promote increased knowledge on the Petroleum Industry Act. The training also seeks to enhance increased community organizing and prepare community members towards conducting needs assessment to contribute to the community development plans in order to engage the processes of the Host Community Development Fund. The Capacity Building training seeks to strengthen the capacity of frontline communities and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to engage and demand transparency and accountability.
Participants were drawn from host communities in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States, comprising community leaders, youth leaders as well as women leaders, CSOs, and the media. During the deliberations, the women raised the following questions:
· Why is the Settlor is given more powers?
· Can the 3% for communities be increased?
· What measures are adopted to check the powers of the Settlor?
· Who determines whether or not community has vandalized pipelines?
Participants also raised the following concerns:
1. That the community provisions stated in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) are not beneficial to the community, as the Settlor has more influence in decision making. The Act gives more powers to the Settlor than communities.
2. The 3% provision for host communities is insignificant, and that the Settlor do not disclose profits and operating cost, and this will lead to improper calculation and application of the 3%.
3. Oil and gas host and impacted communities continue to suffer from land degradation due to oil activities, which have aggravated hunger and youth involvement in criminal activities as livelihood opportunities decline.
4. Selfish community leaders support corporations to disregard engagement with other community members, particularly the women and this denies them opportunities to have a say in the selection of community development projects.
5. Government aids the oil corporations in denying communities their consent rights through heavy military presence which fuel conflicts and violence in the region.
6. That oil and gas corporations as well as government do not practice Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in their dealings with community members.
7. That the practice of the Environmental Impact Assessment processes is not open and transparent. If the same practice is used for the needs assessment, then women and other community members will be excluded from and so excluded from participating in the production of the community development plans.
8. That women suffer loss of livelihoods and severe health challenges like cancer and reproductive challenges, because of harsh effects of oil and pollution.
9. That traditional practice still hinders the development of women despite several campaigns and advocacy initiatives.
a. Women must participate fully in all needs assessment activities as stipulated in the PIA and their neds must be adequately captured in all development plans adopted and implemented.
b. Women must be included in all leadership structures of the Petroleum Industry Act Host Communities Fund in a 50 – 50 manner.
c. The National Assembly should review and amend of the Act to provide increased percentage for host communities from 3% to 10%, and specific provisions for women development fund.
d. That women should be included and be given a percentage (15%) of proceeds from oil revenue, as they still suffer the brunt of exploration.
e. There should be planned remediation and restoration of degraded lands in the Niger Delta.
f. Community Leaders should be trained on Transparency and accountability to promote effective community governance processes.
g. Government and corporations should integrate women peace and security agenda into their programmes and desist from using militarism to address misunderstanding.
h. Government and Corporations should promote community consent rights by practicing the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principles.
This statement is endorsed by the over 40 participants at the 2 days training held on 21st and 22nd November 2022. These participants have also committed to disseminating information about the PIA to other community members through step-down trainings, media engagements and popular education strategies.