THE House of Representatives has been flayed for rejecting a proposal seeking the relocation of the operational and administrative offices of oil companies to the Niger Delta region, by the leadership of rights groups from the area.
The bodies, comprising the Niger Delta Security Watch Organisation of Nigeria (NDSWO), Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI) and Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (FHRACC), stated that a motion of such nature coming at a critical time ought to have been appreciated by all and sundry, insisting that if Nigeria must continue to protect her unity, then everyone must be his biblical brother’s keeper.
Expressing dismay at the cold treatment given to the motion sponsored by Goodluck Opiah, the civil society organisations described the action as unpatriotic and provocative.
They contended that the people of the area have suffered untold environmental pollution and degradation over the years due to oil exploration while the northern and western regions enjoyed the accruing benefits that come with the exploitation of the resources.
They specifically condemned the position of Speaker Yakubu Dogara when he said he could not be forced to site a business in an unsafe environment, describing it as demeaning and an insult to a region which feeds the nation.
In a joint statement by the representatives of the civil society groups namely Dickson Bekederemo; Comrade Austin Ozobo and Alaowei Ebikonbowei Cleric, they wondered where came the issue of insecurity when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director (GMD), Maikanti Baru had already told State House correspondents in Abuja that daily oil production has hit two million barrels.
“How did the NNPC achieve these figures? Can it be achieved in an unsafe and unfriendly environment as alleged by the speaker? People should not be driven by their personal interests or ambitions to instigate another round of avoidable crisis in the region. We have not recovered from the bloody oil war that is gradually given way to peace as a result of the Buhari government’s timely intervention,” the groups said.
Meanwhile, Governor Seriake Dickson labelled those opposed to the relocation as enemies of peace and stability of the region. A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworison-Markson, quoted the governor as saying this at a special dinner organised by the state government on the sideline of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, United States.
The well-attended event, was tagged “Bayelsa/Oloibiri Roundtable”. Dickson further espoused the vision of his administration to drive investment and support the growth of the state’s economy through active engagement of the private sector.
Reiterating the establishment of three modular refineries in each of the state’s senatorial zones, he assured the citizens that the board and management of the Bayelsa Petrochemical and Refinery Company would be constituted upon his return from abroad.
Also yesterday, the Senate passed the bill for the establishment of Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Warri South-West Local South of Delta State. The development comes three years after its foundation-laying ceremony by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The bill was sponsored by James Manager (PDP– Delta South). According to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, physical assets were on site.
The legislation was passed following the report of the Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND chaired by Barau Jibrin, (APC-Kano). The upper chamber of the National Assembly had referred the bill for consideration in November 2016 when it scaled through second reading.
Manager had argued that the huge potential of the maritime sector necessitates a specialised higher institution for the purposes of producing capable manpower for the industry which, according to him, is currently dominated by foreign interests.