By OLAKUNLE OLAFIOYE
FROM its unenviable but historical status as a major transit point for slaves to the Americas and Europe in the 15th century, Badagry in Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State has transformed into an oil community in Nigeria.
The coastal community recently became Nigeria’s crude oil destination following the breakthrough recorded by Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited.
The discovery of crude oil in Badagry is indeed a perfect reward for resilience, tenacity and commitment of the company, which according to its Group Managing Director, Mr. Tunde Folawiyo has invested about $4000 million in the last 25 years.
More remarkably is the fact that the discovery was carried out 100 percent by an indigenous company, a development Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode noted underscored the possibilities and opportunities for investors and businessmen willing to commit their resources to boost local production in the state.
At inception, the nation’s newest oil destination is configured to contribute 12, 000 barrels per day to the nation’s output which currently hovers between 2.20 million and 2.45 million with the possibility of gradually doubling its output in the nearest future.
The success of the company as noted by High Chief Hundogan Samuel, the Agoloto of Badagry, did not come on a platform of gold. “The discovery was made about 26 years ago but the project was delayed because of financial constraint experienced by the late Chief Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo who began the project. Unfortunately, the man passed on before the actual take off of Aje Oil Field. However, his son, Dr. Tunde Folawiyo came onboard and worked tirelessly to ensure that the dream of his father materialized,” he disclosed.
While the project dragged on, the Federal Government was said to have at a point made an attempt to revoke the Operational Mining License, OML granted the company. The decision was, however, rescinded having seen the effort and the commitment of the company to ensure the project see the light of the day.
In a determined effort to actualize the dream, the Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited, Sunday Sun learnt, reached out to some foreign groups from Singapore, U.S, Japan and South Korea to raise the funds required for the completion of the highly capital intensive project.
Although the oil field is situated about 25 kilometre from the shoreline. Badagry, being the nearest community to the site, is regarded as the host community. Besides being the nearest community to the oil field, the environment impact of the activities of the company is more likely to be felt more in Badagry.
Since the commencement of its operation, Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Ltd has shown glimpses of a socially responsible company, a fact acknowledged by High Chief Hundogan, who disclosed that the company refurbished and donated laboratory equipment valued at N14 million to four schools in the community. The benefiting schools are Badagry Senior Grammar School, Methodist High School, Ansarudeen Senior High School and Topo Senior High School.
Like Oliver Twist, the community is asking for more. “We want the youth to be empowered. We don’t want what is happening in Niger Delta to happen to us in Badagry. If the youths are properly engaged, they will not have time for militancy,” Chief Hundogan noted.
This demand is in addition to the women empowerment programme the company is believed to have earmarked as its next line of action and the demand that the company extend its tentacles as far as its CSR is concerned beyond Badagry Central which has been the major beneficiary of the company’s gesture, to other two local councils- Badagry West LCDA and Olorunda LCDA.
Already Lagos State is basking in the euphoria of joining the league of oil producing states in Nigeria. The state governor had during a courtesy visit by the management of the company for the official presentation of sample of crude oil from the site, expressed the readiness of the state to tap into the opportunity provided by the company’s breakthrough.
The governor who declared the state as oil producing state said: “I want to thank you very much for this and I say it with all conviction because I know that based on section 162 Sub-Section 2 of the Nigeria Constitution, Lagos becomes an oil producing state and by virtue of this, the 13 percent derivation that is due to oil producing states, Lagos will start to partake from it by your very good gesture. So we officially declare Lagos State as an oil producing state, we also notify the Federal Government by this action that we would be sharing out of the 13 percent derivation. So all we need do is to apply and then we join.”
Lagos State with an estimated N24.5 billion Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) looks set to once again boost its revenue base as it joins the league of oil producing states in Nigeria. This development, many believe will further put the state government in a better stead for more qualitative service delivery to the people of the state.