By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe :  An enlarged stakeholders meeting between representatives of oil bearing communities, Delta State Government and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu in conjunction with the office of the Vice President was held on Tuesday 21st November, 2017 at the Unity Hall, Government House Asaba.
Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa while speaking at the event urged multinational and independent oil prospecting and exploration companies operating in the state to as a matter of urgency and absolute necessity take a step further to embark on mega or meaningful projects capable of significantly transforming the socioeconomic fortunes of the people in their host communities.
He noted that gone are the days where oil companies merely execute minor or insignificant projects as part of their corporate social responsibilities to host communities, adding that the time is now for oil companies to assist government in the rapid transformation of local communities into modern towns and cities.
"We appreciate the efforts that some of the oil companies have been making in ensuring sustainable peace and development in their host communities but we want to see projects that are meaningful, attractive and geared towards substantial human capital development.
"It's time for you to execute projects that transforms local communities from shanties to beautiful modern towns and cities as a paradigm shift from mere building of few classrooms and provision of drugs in health centres. Your efforts are appreciated but you need to do more.
"Our people are civilized and we want you to assist them to enjoy life and live well as your host. Let them feel your impact positively through deliberate provision of standard and quality social amenities, vocational and technical training and above all, adequately empower them.
"We want to see fantastic and huge roads infrastructure projects spread across towns and villages; build state of the art modern schools and colleges with standard sporting facilities and ICT centres, free modern housing schemes, standard road network, well equipped hospitals and provision of comprehensive scholarships from primary to University especially in communities where population is scanty, to further enhance your socioeconomic impact in those communities," Gov Okowa said.
On the issue of persisting agitation for Oil companies to relocate their headquarters or operational base to Delta State, the smart governor re-echoed the position of the state government on the urgent need for them to commence the process without further delay.
He asserted that to further build on the ongoing peace process in the Niger Delta region, particularly Delta State, the oil companies must respond positively to the yearnings and aspirations of the people and of the host communities by relocating their headquarters or operational base to Delta State as a panacea for addressing the anger associated with stakeholders travelling long distance from Delta to other states to transact business with oil companies when as a matter of fact their major operations and commercial interests are domiciled in the state.
"Our people are not happy travelling to as far as Lagos to do business with oil companies in a situation where their operations and commercial interests are majorly here in the state.
"You are by that singular action denying Delta State huge tax proceeds which we ought to earn to expand our  infrastructure and overall development of the three senatorial districts especially oil bearing communities.
"This development is not funny and oil companies must relocate to Delta so as to consolidate on the existing cordial relationships between the companies, stakeholders and other categories  of agitators. This, I believe, will enhance oil production and export so as to further  grow the nation's economy and by extention Delta State economy," the Governor added.
Gov Okowa also urged the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari, to use his good office in ensuring that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is passed into Law before June 2018 by working closely with the National Assembly through his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters.
He said the PIB is of paramount importance and great concern for oil producing states and that its passage shall go a long way in expanding the scope of development in the Niger Delta region and the nation; noting that failure to pass the bill into law and subsequently signed by Mr President before June 2018;  may frustrate the process as the next Assembly will have to start the process all over again thereby unnecessarily delaying the much expected gains contained in the bill.
On alleged employment  irregularities in oil companies, Gov Okowa said the situation where qualified applicants in host communities are deliberately rejected in employment processes can no longer be tolerated. He passionately appealed to oil companies to do the needful so that host communities can trust them and stimulate peaceful co-existence, going forward.
On his part, Dr Kachikwu said his ministry and the federal government are working with stakeholders, oil companies and oil bearing communities to ensure improved peace and economic stability in terms of oil exploration and export, adding that there is therefore the need for oil companies to increase their  infrastructure development and corporate social responsibilities bidgets for host communities.
He disclosed that 10 companies in Delta State signified interest to build and opetate modular refineries and that applicants shall be screened based on technical expertise and financial strength to avoid issuance of operational licences to companies with weak technical expertise and poor financial status.
On the Maritime University, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources disclosed that N1 billion Naira has been released by the federal government while the sum of N100 million was also made available by Delta State Government as initial take-off grants.
In all, the federal government is to release additional N4 billion while academic activities is expected to commence in August/September 2018.
In his vote of thanks, Secretary to Delta State Government (SSG), Rt. Hon Festus Ovie Agas appealed to Dr Ibe Kachikwu to use his good office to prevail on oil companies operating in the state to stop recruiting skilled and unskilled workers from other states, adding that Delta State have more than enough qualified professionals and applicants with first class degrees and other sound academic grades to fill existing vacancies.
He observed that the deliberate refusal by some oil companies to employ qualified members of host communities created severe insecurity in some of the host communities leading to pipelines vandalization and persistent agitations wherein billions of Naira were lost in revenue earnings to the state.
He thanked royal fathers, stakeholders especially representatives of oil bearing communities, Dr Ibe Kachikwu and office of the Vice President for collaborating with the state government to rob minds on vital issues affecting the oil and gas sector.
The key issues agreed upon shall be documented by a committee assigned to craft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU); and its implementation shall be personally supervised by the Hon Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu and office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Top government functionaries present includes; Rt Hon Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, Deputy Speaker,  Rt Hon Friday Ossai Osanebi, SSG Festus Agas, Head of Service, Reginald Bayoko, Information Commissioner, Hon Patrick Ukah, some members of Delta State Exco, traditional rulers, representatives of oil bearing communities, CEO and senior management staff of Oil companies and representatives of the Vice President's office.
The occasion was a huge success as declared by the Hon Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu.
Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *