From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
FOLLOWING a directive by the Federal Government that multi-national oil companies should relocate to their areas of operations, Delta State Government has commenced an aggressive engagement with oil and gas bearing communities with a view to establishing stable peace for the companies to thrive.
Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mr. Mofe Pirah who led the state government delegation, said the initiative was to complement the federal government’s quest for enduring peace in the Niger Delta.
Addressing representatives of cluster communities of Odimodi, Yokri, Sokebolou, Obotobo and Ogulagha, in Burutu Local Government Area, Pirah said: “Several companies have relocated from the areas in recent times and the only reason given for their action was that the environment was no longer safe for them to operate as their workers were being kidnapped and equipment vandalise.”
He charged all to say no to insecurity in the Niger Delta as it has stunted growth in most of the oil and gas-bearing communities in the state. “In the last two years, Delta State has been witnessing a decline in oil production as a result of insecurity in oil producing communities. The problem was to the extent that production dropped from 600,000 barrel per day to about 200,000. The emergency at hand is to create enabling environment for the return of the multinational companies to the areas to address the poverty in the land and grow socio-economic sector in the communities and there must be a sustained synergy…”
among critical partners,” Pirah said.
According to him, the Ministry of Oil and Gas and the office of the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice have been mandated to interface with communities to erase hostilities between companies and their host communities, saying every agitation can be settled through dialogue.
Special Adviser to the governor on Niger Delta, Kelly Penawou; Vice Chairman of Burutu Council, Samuel Peremoke; Senior Special Assistant to the governor, (Political), Godknows Angele and some other aides to the governor, said the relocation of the companies have worsened the problem of unemployment in the land.
They stressed the need for sustainable peace in the communities, saying more strategies be adopted to facilitate the return of multi-national companies that left the state in the wake of uncontrollable hostilities.
Most of the community representatives who spoke encouraged the return of peace and security in the oil and gas bearing communities, stressing the need for the companies to respect the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the people.
They said there was too much neglect in the Niger Delta, particularly riverine areas and appealed to government at all levels and other intervention agencies to develop the communities.