The Anambra State Government has advised oil-producing communities in Ogbaru Council Area of the state to embrace peace and be united to access benefits from oil-producing companies in Nigeria.
The State Commissioner for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Barrister Anthony Ifeanya gave the advice during a workshop organised by his ministry for host communities on Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) at the Jerome Udoji State Secretariat, Awka, over the weekend.
The participating communities which included Ogwu-Ikpere and Ogwu-Aniocha had in attendance stakeholders drawn from town unions, youth organisations, and the traditional institution.
Addressing the participants, the commissioner explained that since the inception of the present administration, Professor Chukwuma Soludo’s priority had been to entrench lasting peace and harmony in communities to create a conducive environment for businesses and development to thrive.
Barr Ifeanya who asked the host communities to learn from other states where oil boom, instead of becoming a blessing, became their doom, pointed out that the essence of the workshop was to educate them on their rights under the PIA 2021 to ensure rapid development in all host communities.
He insisted that both parties must fulfil their obligations under the law and that the host communities’ trust fund was for the development of the communities and not for individual gains.
Delivering a paper titled; “Relationship with host communities: Its sustainability and the environment” Barrister Richard Ezechukwuma called for cordial relationship between settlers and host communities for the benefit of government and reminded the settlers that it was compulsory in the petroleum and mineral resources that they set up Host Communities Trust Fund as it would help drive prosperity and peaceful co-existence in the petroleum industry.
For the member, Anambra State Oil and Gas Development Committee, Professor Kingsley Nwozor, the state was on the right track for speedy development among host communities as the state had learned from the mistakes of others, and had improved the relationship with host communities for mutual benefit.
Responding on behalf of the Community Relationship Management, Mr. Austine Brown appreciated the state for its active role in resolving any issue in the host communities; and promised to operate within the tenets of the law.