Nigeria to engage oil companies on relocation of head offices to Niger Delta

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo

Nigeria’s acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday directed the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, “to engage” with International Oil Companies “on the way forward” over repeated calls for the relocation of their head offices to the states where they produce oil from.

Most of the IOCs in Nigeria have their headquarters in Lagos, south west of the country, hundreds of kilometers away from the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

The Niger Delta people have long complained that while oil exploration activities have polluted their environment, the IOCs were paying taxes and other benefits to another state.

Mr. Osibanjo, who was responding to the requests made by various interest groups in Akwa Ibom State during the town hall meeting he had with the people of the state, said the federal government was proposing a new vision for the people of oil producing communities.

The American oil giant, ExxonMobil, is one of the IOCs operating in Akwa Ibom, but with its head offices in Lagos.

“The majority of the people of these communities, including the oil producing communities here in this state, have heard of the wealth that oil has brought, but have hardly benefited from it,” Mr. Osinbajo said at the Government House banquet hall to an excited crowd of indigenes which included the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, and the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, OGFZA, Umana Umana.

Mr. Osinbajo admitted that the blessings of oil have sadly become a curse for the people.

He said that he and his entourage were visiting the state on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Buhari has been on leave for more than 40 days now, in London.

During the town hall meeting, the people told Mr. Osinbajo that the long years of oil exploration did not bring along the expected development and happiness to the state.

Nduese Essien, a former minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, for instance, told the acting president that the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, which is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has no befitting office in the state.

Mr. Essien, who is also a former member of the House of Representatives, said the DPR was operating from a rented two-bedroom apartment in Eket, adding that NNPC itself has no single office in Akwa Ibom, despite the fact that the state was the largest oil producing state in the country.

“When they (NNPC workers) come to Akwa Ibom to supervise oil production, where they are joint venture partners with oil companies, they stay in the tents provided by the oil companies,” Mr. Essien said. “And you know what that means.

“None of the NNPC subsidiaries is located in Akwa Ibom State. There’s no oil depot in the state for refined petroleum products. The communities are neither stakeholders nor shareholders in the oil business.

“Apart from the 13 per cent oil derivation money paid to the state government, the oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom have nothing to show for several years of oil exploration in the state.

“The federal government has shown no interest in meaningful development and presence in the areas, other than providing policemen and other security personnel in the area.

“They only provide policemen and other security to ensure that oil flows uninterrupted in the area.

“The oil services companies come from outside Akwa Ibom with their workers whose taxis are paid to their places of residence. The auxiliary benefits and the multiplier effects of operating in the oil producing area are therefore lost.”

Mr. Essien said the story of oil exploration in the state was “the story of woes”, and added that the state was exceptionally peaceful in the Niger Delta region because the elders prevailed upon the youth not to bomb oil pipelines.

“We can no longer guarantee that the youth will continue to listen to us if the federal government continues to ignore us,” Mr. Essien said, pleading with the federal government to reward the state with needed projects and human development.

He reiterated the demand of the people that oil companies operating in the state should move their headquarters to the state.

“Today, all those impediments ranging from lack of airport, road network, housing, and accommodation have been conquered. They don’t have any excuse not to move their headquarters to Akwa Ibom.”

Both the acting president and the minister of state for Petroleum praised the Akwa people for not resorting to the bombing of oil pipelines.

Mr. Kachikwu promised that he would ensure that NNPC establishes its presence in the state.

“This state is not just known as the highest producer of oil in Nigeria, it is also the most peaceful state,” Mr. Kachikwu said. “I would not have been able to deliver some of the results we are seeing today without the support of the people of this state.”


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  • FreeNigeria

    Who’s gonna guarantee their safety? We all know how kidnapping started in Nigeria

    • thusspokez

      We all know how kidnapping started in Nigeria

      Do you really know?

      Earliest possible reference is in 1887 when the British kidnapped Jaja of Opobo — He was never to return to Africa again.

      • FreeNigeria

        same region, same problem

        • thusspokez

          Yes in 1887: There was no oil then; these people were already trading with Europeans. e.g., the Dutch, Portuguese and British; their merchants were travelling to Europe. This was at the time when most parts of what is now Nigeria were primitive, wearing grass skirts and roaming about in the jungle.

          • Eja

            Better to be more specific about the primitives wearing raw vegetation. We Yoruba have had our textile industry for ages. From it we produced aso oke, adire, sanyan, etc. With these we made buba, sokoto, agbada, iro, and buba.

          • thusspokez

            The Niger delta consists of many ethnic groups, so please go away and discuss your tribe with someone else. I am discussing a different matter issue.

          • Eja

            Your words: “This was at the time when MOST PARTS OF WHAT IS NOW NIGERIA were primitive, the natives wore grass skirts and roamed about the jungle.”

            If you meant niger delta, why not say so? Or is “most parts of what is now nigeria” another name for niger delta?

            If I had known that you were talking about your primitive tribe, I would not have felt a need to say anything about my nation. Be clearer next time.

  • Egbele Tom Amos

    Join the discussion…

  • Egbele Tom Amos

    Where were the ibomites while gej holds sway.till now.

  • Otile

    This is what we are talking about, good leadership makes an ocean of difference in the development of a country. No Fulani can entertain this type of thought. As parasites_they are out to_suck_their hosts dried, if the hosts object they abuse, attack, and invade. They know that what they are doing to us is injustice, yet they resort to insults, intimidation, and military might to intimidate and steal what belongs to us. Separation is the answer.

    • Ashibogu

      Otile! I still dey dream! See as God dey work.

  • thusspokez

    The American oil giant, ExxonMobil, is one of the IOCs operating in Akwa Ibom, but with its head offices in Lagos.

    This is clearly a behaviour one would associate with guilty conscience. These companies knew their practices in the Niger delta are evil, hence their decision to keep their HQs as far away as possible from the scene of their daily crimes.

  • El Patron

    Its actually very true, despite the fact Akwa Ibom is the highest oil producer in the country, they are one of the most peaceful state, certainly in terms of pipeline vandalism and bombing. Maybe because one particular infamous, troublesome Niger Delta ethnic group dont come from there. If not……..

  • Eja

    Great policy. Hope its not just a suggestion. The oil companies should be given a time frame within which they have to relocate their head offices – a move that is to be verified in case they are tempted to rent two rooms in some business centre and call these ‘head office’ while the real business still goes on in Eko.

    Once the deadline given passes, heavy fines should start being levied. I am talking something in the region of 30% of monthly revenues every week. Eko needs to be decongested.

  • JexDog Real

    Consider safety first of all. Sanity follows. Even America would love to bring d white house to lagos but am not saying that federal government should not look inward n not total relocation.

  • Du Covenant

    Who will ever come to invest in Nigeria if the government dictates where the investor should have their head offices?. Such decisions are strategic in nature and usually taken for a number of reasons by these companies. The government can only suggest but, cannot force them to locate where the government wants. The fact of the matter is, there are just too many anomalies with the way we do things in Nigeria. E.G. why should car plate numbers in Nigeria be only produced at one source and from Lagos?. In normal countries this is an absurdity while in Nigeria is normal that, all States of the federation must order their plate numbers from Lagos!. An investor coming to Nigeria should be allowed to use whatever criteria he/she uses to determine where to locate. You can vandalized their installations, these can be replaced but, life can’t be replaced. Nigerians have created the image our country has as a ‘very dangerous’ place to do business so, security considerations have become part of equation to decide location and no one should blame these companies. We must change the image first and let the people decide.I understand even the foreign oil workers living in the oil producing communities are housed in heavily guarded compounds, why should that be the case?. These workers are essentially living as prisoners because of the image we have created for ourselves. Please, let these companies locate wherever they wish especially in the advent of Internet they don’t even have to be set foot in Nigeria!. We need to just sit and continue to leak our self inflicted wounds rather than displaying our ignorance for the world to see.