The Federal Government’s desire to bring lasting peace and development to the Niger Delta region received a major fillip on Tuesday with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and International Oil Companies, IOC’s along with indigenous oil companies pledging to support the post amnesty programme.
Rising after a meeting facilitated by Dr. Rilwanu Lukman at the NNPC Towers in Abuja, the captains of the Nigerian oil and gas industry unanimously resolved to ensure that the gains of the amnesty is sustained.
The meeting saw the appointment of Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters as Chairman of a Special Oil Industry Committee on Post Amnesty.
Setting the stage for what turned out a thought provoking gathering, Dr. Lukman challenged the operators of the oil industry to come up with a post amnesty package which will ensure that youths of the Niger Delta are not tempted to go back to the creeks.
“I don’t need to over emphasize what we have lost as a government and as operators in the Niger Delta during the dark days of militancy. But we must look ahead and take concrete steps to avoid a reoccurrence of the ugly past,” the minister stressed.
Picking up the gauntlet, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, Group Managing Director of NNPC, undertake to join forces with the IOC’s and other key operators in the petroleum industry to develop the Niger Delta region.
“the challenge for us today is to identify concrete ways and means within our mandate to sustain and promote the overall objective of Mr. President. We must look into the area of capacity limitation of the youths so as to assist them in acquiring the relevant skills that will make them marketable in the industry,” Barkindo said.
Responding on behalf of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Mutiu Sumonu, emphasized the need to work on the minds of the erstwhile militants through a well structured re-orientation programme. “Once proper re-orientation is achieved we can now move to the next stage which is integration. But in all these we must work as a group by galvanizing our efforts to achieve greater impact,” Sumonu said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by representatives of Exxon/Mobil, Addax Petroleum, Total, Oando and ENI-CONNOCOPHILIPS.
The consensus was that to achieve meaningful peace and progress in the region, attention must be paid to opening up the Delta in such a way that the youths will be empowered to build and maximize their capacity.
In his remarks, the chairman of the newly constituted committee, Dr Egbogah promised to ensure that everything is done to achieve the cardinal objectives of the federal government’s post amnesty plan. Members of the committee were drawn from the NNPC, IOC’s and indigenous oil companies.