By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA
Minister of State, Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva has sued for sustainable peace in the Niger Delta, saying the quest to have multinational oil companies relocate their operational headquarters to the region cannot be achieved in an atmosphere of rancour and violence.
Sylva gave the charge at the weekend in Abuja when the Niger Delta Nonviolence Agitators Forum NDNAF invested him as its patron and peace ambassador.
People of the Niger Delta had for some years been clamouring for multinationals to relocate their headquarters to the region in order to boost economic activities in the area and douse ethnic tensions.
At the event, Sylva said; “What I must say here is that the essence or core of your organization is nonviolence and that is actually the essence of what we want in Nigeria.
“We must bring peace to the Niger Delta. It is our duty to bring peace to the Niger Delta. Sometimes we are worried that investment opportunities are not coming to the Niger Delta, but we must realize that it is our activities that will determine whether these opportunities will come or not.
“Right now, we are saying that oil companies must move their headquarters to the Niger Delta. But it is our duty to ensure that the place is peaceful enough for the oil companies to move back there. Because if the place is insecure, you will actually believe that no oil company will agree to go there. That is why this organization is really very important in the Niger Delta. That is why we must begin to also encourage those of you who are committed to making peace and only trying to assuage those who are making trouble. So, I am really happy to be associated with this organization. I will like to recommend that other organizations also emulate what you are doing and actually propagate the message of peace; because what we need in the Niger Delta more than anything else right now is peace and I believe that if there is peace in the Niger Delta there will be prosperity.
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“No investor would want to operate from far if there is peace because it actually costs him more operating from a distance. So for us, I believe that if we can bring peace to the Niger Delta, these investors will not talk much, the numbers will speak for themselves. When they put the numbers together, they will realize that it is better for them to go and operate there. But if you have not made the place peaceful, they will put the numbers together, and you know, the cost of insecurity is very high. So, when they put the numbers together, they will prefer to stay far away and take your resources than to come to the area where they know they can not guarantee their security. It is very important that we take this message of peace to our people, just as you have brought that message to me, and I want to assure you that from today, I will also be an advocate of the Niger Delta Nonviolence Agitators Forum”.
National President of the Forum, Comrade Wisdom Oniekpar Ikuli in his remarks said through Sylva’s unquantifiable sacrifices, over 30,000 ex-combatants were disarmed and inducted into the Disarmament, Demobilization, Deradicalization and Reintegration DDR initiative of the Presidential Amnesty Programme PAP.
“Through the Presidential Amnesty Programme PAP, thousands of youths who never had hope of access to education which is the bedrock of every human society can now boast of university education. Hundreds of youths have gotten Master degrees, a reasonable number have even gotten Doctorate degrees. Through this programme which is your brainchild, many youths have been trained as Commercial Pilots, Seafarers, Welders and in other skills and trades that have made them self-reliant in the absence of white-collar jobs.
“The Presidential Amnesty Programme PAP has changed the fortunes of many Niger Deltans and this to a large extent has led to a drastic reduction of crime and criminality in the region”, Ikuli added.
The forum also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari’s ongoing transformation in the petroleum sector, citing the smooth take-off of the NLNG Train 7 project, the speedy completion and commissioning of the 17-Storey Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board NCDMB headquarters in Bayelsa State, the Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Project which Final Investment Decision (FID) has been signed preparatory for its smooth take-off and also the Oloibiri-Otabagi Oil and Gas Museum and Research Institute “among other giant strides that shall translate to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and employment for our great youths”.