Lawmakers Intensify Scrutiny On Oil Companies In South-South Region

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The House of Representatives Committee investigating the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility by multi national oil companies operating in the South South zone, says it would not tolerate any kind of disrespect by the companies.

Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Lilian Orogbu who spoke at the resumed hearing of the committee threatened to drag in the mud the image of companies operating in the region, but refuse to honour invitation from the committee.

She expressed displeasure about the attitude of some of the companies, saying they were being disrespectful to the National Assembly.

She said some of the companies have been ignoring invitations from the Committee.

The lawmaker noted that after three  invitations to the companies, the committee will be left with no option than to invoke the powers of the parliament on the affected companies.

“We don’t know who you are. This committee was formed to investigate petitions coming from those places where you operate. Series of petitions coming from your host communities. We are not here to witch hunt anybody, not by any means.

“We are here to work together to see that your operations are carried out with all sense of responsibility and that those communities where you operate feel happy that they are also benefiting from these companies operating in their midst.

“We are all talking about building a new Nigeria, while the Presidency is talking about renewed hope agenda. We need to give hope to our citizens.

“The committee report will be prepared very soon and we won’t want your companies to be indicted. In the next few days, you are going to see me in Channels Tv discussing the host community issues, the company issues and how these companies have been handling the host community issues. I am sure you won’t want your companies to be mentioned.

“If that does not mean anything to you, by the time we begin to invoke the powers of the National Assembly and the powers of the constitution on your companies, I am sure you won’t like it.

“We are here to work with you and in the area where you are not meeting up, the committee will advice you to do the needful and we will come on site to view what you are doing. But don’t make us look as if we are witch hunting you.

“But if we find out that your company has become a troublesome company to this committee, I will weild everything I have and the committee will use all its powers to fight back. So please, we would want you to conduct yourself in the most appropriate manner expected of companies of your repute”. Prof. Orogbu said.

Prof. Orogbu also said that the meeting was part of efforts being undertaking to ascertain the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by Multi national oil companies and other corporate bodies operating in the South-South zone.

“It is an incontrovertible fact in Nigeria that the South-South region is the life blood of our nation’s economy, rich in natural resources and brimming potentials.

“However, alongside this bounty comes responsibility — a responsibility for corporate bodies to ensure their operations contributes positively to the socio-economic and environmental well-being of this region in line with Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.” She said.

She pointed out that the hearing was a follow up to the one earlier held on the 6th of March.

The investigation she said was to find out how efficient are companies integrating Corporate Social Responsibility principles into their operations, whether Local Communities benefiting from the presence of the corporate bodies and determine the balance between resources extraction and environmental sustainability?

“These findings will be Instrumental in shaping future policies and fostering a more responsible and sustainable business environment in the South South.

“I urge all participating companies to approach this process with transparency and commitment to the nation. We want to work with you, not against you to create a win win situation where businesses flourish along thriving and empowered communities.

“For those multi national oll companies and corporate bodies operating in the South South who have disrespectfully ignored this Joint Committee’s invitations for this strategic steering meeting consecutively, the Joint Committee wishes to unequivocally state that, It will employ all the constitutional means at its disposal including the invocation section 89(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended) to compel them to appear before the Committee.

“I am optimistic that this investigation will be a catalyst for positive change in the South-South and a model for responsible corporate conduct throughout our nation Nigeria“. She added.

Some of the companies that attended the hearing gave account of their CRS activities in their host communities.

Some of the companies got commended for compliance while some were knocked for lack of performance or presenting false information.

The Committee promised to undertake an oversight visit to the communities for on the spot assessment of their claims.

 

Olusola Akintonde

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