By Adewale Sanyaolu
The heightened insecurity in the South-south and South East Zones of the country is said to be posing a major threat to oil and gas activities in the region, Daily Sun has learnt.
This was even as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN),Port Harcourt Zone comprising some major oil and gas producing states including; Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Anambra, Enugu and Eboyi States, warned that the development remained a major setback to the $1.5 billion Port Harcourt refinery rehabilitation.
Chairman, PENGASSAN Port Harcourt Zonal branch, Mr. Peter Chukwudi Onita, warned that if the development is not checked and curtailed may have a devastating effect on the socio-economic well-being of the Nation.
Onita said the Zone which comprises nine oil and gas producing States are seriously under one form of security threat or the other, which PENGASSAN views as a bad call to any meaningful development.
The PENGASSAN Zonal Chairman said the Zone also accounts for a larger chunk of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector operations, representing about 85 per cent of government revenues.
According to him, the total revenue flow to the Federation, other tiers of government and sub-national entities from all sources (including crude oil sales, taxes, royalties and other incomes) was $32.6 billion 2018.
‘‘As the Zone with the resources, we therefore warn that the current state of affairs in kidnapping for ransom, attacks on security agencies especially the Nigeria Police and the rise of militia and ragtag armies if allowed to persist may have dire consequences and threats to food and economic security as well as life of the citizens of not only the states under the Zone but to the entire Nation.
Consequently, as the Zone with the highest conglomerates and individual key players in the oil and gas sector, we demand that the States should be empowered with the necessary legislations that will enable them take charge of security issues in their domain. The era of centralized policing should be done away with while locals and communities be allowed to own and operate arms carrying personal to protect the huge investments in the oil and gas sector,’’.
PENGASSAN also called on investors and management in the oil and gas to disregard the effects of COVID-19 pandemic in the sector and safe guide the workers in the industry against COVID-19 instigated redundancies, wage reduction and arbitrary dismissal.
Rather, PENGASSAN said encouragement should focused on opening new frontiers that will harness the abundant natural gas resources in the Zone, the ninth-largest in terms of global gas reserves with over 200 Trillion Cubic Feet(TCF), as well as the establishment of modular refineries and training facilities for the youth in the oil bearing communities as a way to fighting the rising wave of criminality and other social vices.