From: Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Following the directive by the Federal Government that multi-national oil companies should relocate to their areas of operations, the 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 in the state, Mr. Mofe Pirah, who is leading the state government’s delegation, said the initiative was to complement the Federal Government’s guest for enduring peace in the Niger Delta region.
Addressing representatives of cluster communities of Odimodi, Yokri, Sokebolou, Obotobo and Ogulagha, all in Burutu Local Government Area, Pirah said, “Several companies have relocated from the areas in recent times and the only reason they give for their action was that the environment was no longer safe for them to operate as their workers were being kidnapped and equipment vandalize.”
He charged all to say no to insecurity in the Niger Delta region as the sad development was the major cause of stunted growth in most of the oil and gas bearing communities in the state, partly as a result of a sharp drop in revenue generation.
“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 help address the poverty in the land and grow the socio-economic sector in the communities and there must be a sustained synergy among all critical partners,” Pirah noted.
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 always interface with communities aimed to erase all forms of hostilities between companies and their host communities, saying that every agitation can be settled through dialogue.
The 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 aids to the governor who spoke 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, emphasising that 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 strive to always respect the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the people.
They said there was too much neglect in the Niger Delta, particularly riverine are and appealed to government at all levels and other intervention agencies to develop the communities.