By Eboagwu Austine N. Monday
The new Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the national assembly has proposed that all oil companies operating in some communities must develop community development plans to ensure their economic growth.
The new bill obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that the companies were expected to engage with the communities to understand their specific needs.
In the set law, oil companies must develop a host community development plan and shall submit it to the regulatory body ‘the authority’, it said.
It added that the set law after the grant of any license or lease issued in pursuant to the act must conduct a need assessment in accordance with the act.
It noted that each host community needs assessment must form a social, environmental and economic perspective of the affected host community.
“It has to ascertain the effect that the proposed petroleum operations must have on the host community and provide strategy for addressing needs and effects identified”, it said.
The new bill further noted that each host community needs assessment must show that the set law had engaged the affected host community to understand the issue of such host community.
“It has to indicate that host community was consulted with and considered the reasonable concerns of women, youths and community leaders.”
“Engage with each affected host community in developing a strategy to address the need and effect identified in the applicable host community need assessment”, it added.
On content of host community plan, it said that it shall specify the community development initiative required to respond to the findings and strategy identified in host community needs assessment.
According to the new PIB, the plan shall determine and specify projects to implement and provide a detailed timeline for the project.
“It will determine and prepare the budget of the host community development plan and set put the reasons and objective of each project as supported by the host community needs assessment”, it said.