By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
PAN-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has backed Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that international oil companies, IOCs, operating in Niger Delta should stop using insecurity to justify non-relocation of their operational headquarters to the oil region, rubbishing the stand of Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who maintained that the multinationals would come when security improves in the region.
Wike had said: “They use insecurity issue to place us in a disadvantaged position and deny us our right. There is insecurity in Lagos, Kaduna and Katsina states. Yet, companies do not run away from those states.
“The railway projects are not stalled too. The multinationals are sometimes to blame because they instigate insecurity by paying militants and cultists for pipeline surveillance, and then turn around to blame it on the people.”
Governor Wike said this when Chief Sylva and management of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, including the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, visited him at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Agreeing with Wike, the National Chairman of PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd) said: “I have listened to the discussion that took place at Government House, Port Harcourt, as was reported by a section of the media, when the NNPC board led by the Minister of State Petroleum, Sylva, visited Governor Wike.
“During the visit, the Minister of State said international oil companies will move their operational headquarters to the Niger Delta region when the security of the region improves and Wike disagreed with him.
“We agree with Wike that, perhaps, the seeming insecurity in the region is caused by the oil companies themselves so that they would have an excuse to continue to situate their headquarters outside the Niger Delta.
“They work and evacuate millions of barrels of oil and gas every day from the region without mention of insecurity, but they present the excuse of insecurity when it comes to the relocation of their operational headquarters to the region.”
He also complained about the abandonment of the Export Processing Zone, EPZ and Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project at Ogidigben in Delta State in favour of the AKK Gas Pipeline from Ajaokuta to Abuja, Kaduna and Kano by the Federal Government.
He said: “The relocation of the Floating Dock from the Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko, Delta State to Lagos and callous exclusion of oil-producing communities from participation in the oil and gas industry, including the ownership of oil marginal fields and blocks are issues that cannot be swept under the carpet.”
Nkanga charged South-South governors not to delay any longer the setting up of a joint security outfit for the region, saying, “Niger Delta is not inferior to any other region in the country. They should, therefore,
not delay any longer, whatever that is needed, should be done to ensure that a regional security outfit is established, to complement the efforts of the nation’s security agencies, and enhance the safety and security of lives and property of not only our people but all Nigerians who reside or do business in the region.”
He also asked the governors “to reinvigorate the BRACED Commission to stimulate socio-economic cooperation and growth in the Niger Delta. Niger Deltans are not happy that our governors are not meeting as often as they should, to discuss the problems of the region.”