By Austin Ogwuda
REGIONAL Executive Vice President of Shell Exploration and Production (Africa), Ann Pickard, has said the Federal Government generated $37 billion within the last five years of Shellâ€™s operation in the country.
This comes as the company expressed optimism that its production would be sustained in view of the amnesty put in place by the Federal Government.
Speaking at Town Hall session with women opinion leaders drawn from Ondo, Edo and Delta states, with the theme, The Role of Women as Catalysts for Development of the Niger Delta, Pickard explained that the $37 billion comprised taxes, royalties, among others, paid to the Federal Government.
She said: â€œIn 2008, the SPDC joint venture spent more than $2.1 million to train 492 youths in various skills, such as welding, carpentry and pipe lifting.
â€œWe also partnered with the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria to support the NDDC in training 600 Niger Delta youths on non-violence and conflict management.â€
She called on the women to play that role very well, noting that â€œI am reminded of just how critical the women of the Niger Delta are to the process of community building, peace, and the overall stability and development of the region.â€
State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Queen Moth-er V.N. Ikenchuku, lamented that women suffer most in times of violence in the regionÂ and, therefore, called for their empowerment.
Said she:Â Â â€œYou may recall that the crisis that rocked Gbaramatu kingdom in May this year was a result of reactions to the issues of underdevelopment, marginalization, deprivation, exploitation and the likes. â€œ
You will also recall that the state government established a rehabilitation camp at Ogbe-Ijoh, but it is sad to note that while the men were directly engaged in the crisis, women found themselves having to become family and household heads.
â€œThe women and children had to stay in camp as long as the crisis lasted. They now had to fend for themselves,â€ the commissioner noted.