EXCLUSIVE: Why we can’t relocate from Lagos to Akwa Ibom – ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil Nigeria Headquarters

The American oil giant, ExxonMobil, has explained why it cannot move its head office in Nigeria, from Lagos to Akwa Ibom State where the company produces oil.

The demands for International Oil Companies, IOCs, in Nigeria to relocate their head offices from Lagos to the Niger Delta region resurfaced recently during the acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s tour of the troubled region.

During his visit to Akwa Ibom, Mr. Osinbajo directed the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, “to engage” with the IOCs “on the way forward” over the calls for their relocation.

The acting president’s directive was seen as a major boost to campaigns by Niger Delta States to have oil companies relocate to their states of operation.

But ExxonMobil, in a response to a similar demand on it some 12 years ago, had said that the relocation of its head office to Akwa Ibom wouldn’t have “a significant impact” on the state, and also that such movement “was not practical for a number of reasons”.

In a 2005 letter addressed to a U.S-based Nigerian environment activist, Tom-Mbeke Ekanem, the oil company said, “Mobil has three businesses in Nigeria which are managed by one Lead Country Manager. It is essential that the headquarters of each of those businesses be consolidated in one office where support services can be shared.

“Lagos offers each of those businesses a convenient and well-suited hub from which all three businesses can be efficiently conducted and coordinated by that manager.”

The letter was written from the ExxonMobil’s international headquarters, Texas, in the U.S, and signed by the then Public Affairs Manager, Fred Marshall.

Mr. Ekanem published the letter on Friday on an Internet discussion group, Ibom Forum.

The company said another reason why they wouldn’t relocate their head office was that their “primary federal government contacts in Nigeria” were based in Lagos.

It said that Akwa Ibom was still getting huge benefits from its operation, despite the company’s head office being in Lagos.

“The majority of MPN’s business activity is centered in Akwa Ibom. MPN’s operational headquarters are in QIT, Ibeno, where about 80 percent of MPN employees are based,” Mr. Marshall said in the letter.

“MPN also has a liaison office in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom, to facilitate interactions with the state government.

“Additionally, the majority of our community assistance is focused on Akwa Ibom.

“Another consideration is that MPN participates in a joint venture in which the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has a 60 percent interest. Hence, the majority of any relocation cost would be primarily borne by NNPC.”

PREMIUM TIMES contacted Ogechukwu Udeagha, the Manager, Media and Communications, in Mobil, to find out what is the company’s position on the current agitation, but he declined comment.

During Mr. Osinbajo’s visit to Akwa Ibom, one of the speakers who made a case against the federal government, Mobil and other IOCs operating in the state was Nduese Essien, a former minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

Mr. Essien told the acting president, “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.”

The agitation for the relocation of Mobil’s headquarters was initiated about 15 years ago by the then Akwa Ibom governor, Victor Attah, who is known for his call for resource control and fiscal federalism.

During his administration, in 2001, Mr. Attah brought the World Conference of Mayors to the state to use it to further the agitation against Mobil.

After their conference in Eket, the mayors who came all the way from the U.S and Europe added their voices to the call for Mobil to relocate its head office to the state.

Mr. Ekanem, the environment activist that ExxonMobil wrote to, believed that a lot of changes have taken place in the last 12 years that should compel Mobil to change its stand on the issue.

“If nothing else, now that Nigerian Vice President has thrown his weight behind this thorny issue, our state government and the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly should be emboldened to take on this issue with renewed vigor and optimism,” Mr. Ekanem wrote on Ibom Forum.


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  • Abdullah Musa

    They want oil companies headquarters in Niger Delta so that they can kidnap the executives easily.

    • Kickboxer

      Terrorist or disguised Yariba slave…is this the last post before it becomes your turn to meet 72 virgins?

      • Abdullah Musa

        Thanks for the good prayers…. meeting the virgins.

        • deltavoice

          So na virgin de pain Una pass for this life?
          Namanama!

        • Kickboxer

          and you are communicating with humans?

          • Abdullah Musa

            A Muslim is daily reminded of how temporary this life is.
            We are reminded of two abodes: paradise and hell.
            So if someone wishes me dead so that I have the virgins promised me by my Creator, then he is a well-wisher.
            Crude oil should not define life, aspirations.

    • Karl Imom

      You said it all.

    • Victor Ntekim

      Ignorant man.

    • Iniabasi Akpan

      Yes we kidnap..but d u and I know that d highest level of crime is in d north.don’t b scared.we’ll still give ur impoverished states d usual leftovers.
      Lazy lots.

      • Abdullah Musa

        I wont quarrel with your comment on crime in the North since you are probably the new IGP.
        But hold unto your crumbs, and feed your ganja-dazed militants.
        I am a fulani herdsman, I can thrive on milk.

  • Ken

    Mobile is not serious it is because the Niger Delta people are civil, else the company would know what this comment would cost them.

    • LoveNigeria

      Yes, they are civil and need to stay civil but strategic. They should not negotiate with one item in their basket else they get nothing or they get less than what they are entitled to. On the present issue at hand, resource control is a strategic component for the entire Niger Delta and for the nation but should not be used in isolation of other issues that can help the Region achieve in many fronts. Concerning Akwa Ibom and Cross River (Niger Delta for the matter), other issues are Sustaining repositioning of Calabar (Niger Delta) as the first capital of Nigeria, the taking away of the original name of Akwa Ibom and Cross River as Southeastern Nigeria by the Federal Government. This was the Geographic unifying name for Akwa Ibom and Cross River. Perhaps, the Federal Government can rename these states as the Coastal Southeastern Nigeria which is what the people now frequently call themselves.

  • sammyctu ode

    I agree with Exxon -Mobil and I don’t think it’s the business of FG to give such directives especially when there’s no more JV partnership meaning the IOCs will spend millions of dollars to relocate. The IOCs deals with many agencies in Lagos and Abuja especially ministry of petroleum resources, DPR, etc. FG should keep off emotional issues and let oil companies decide what’s good for them as far as relocation. She’ll regional headquarters was in warri until the communities and criminals forced them to leave.

    • Edon B.

      Sorry, the big game is up and the chicken have come home to roost, for nothing else can stop the project on whose time have come.

      • Datti

        The IOC should not bulge! These Niger Delta people are looking for more high profile individuals to kidnap.

    • LoveNigeria

      There are many other issues Akwa Ibom and Cross River leaders can bring up and get help from the Federal Government to develop the former Southeastern State. Does Calabar gets the recognition as the first capital of Nigeria? What can be done for Calabar to get the recognition in a permanent and sustaining way.

      • makinoson

        “…There are many other issues Akwa Ibom and Cross River leaders can bring up and get help from the Federal Government ”

        Really??? Akwa Ibom get help from “Federal Government”? Really??? …Is it not Akwa Ibom that feeds Federal Government? Does your so called Federal government have anything to give Akwa Ibom? Or you just want to lie to yourself and feel good with the lie? Pls ask questions if you are sick in the brain. If Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa alone decide to starve Nigeria of petrol dollars in just 3 months will Nigeria survive it?

  • TDaniels2

    Osinbajo should beware and avoid at all costs playing to the gallery. Government has no business interfering in how private sectors organise their activities. Mobil”s operation HQ is in the Niger Delta, that what matters most. As long as Mobil is operating within the laws, no moral, ethical or legal requirements to have its administrative HQ elsewhere. It’s up to Mobil and other IOC to decide where they put their HQ. Think about this: Lagos is the financial centre for Nigeria, so why is the CBN not headquartered in aLagos? Why Abuja? There are many more examples, so government must be careful with their utterances and directives.

    • LoveNigeria

      Do Akwa Ibom leaders note that the top employees in ExxonMobil are not Akwa Ibom or Cross River people? Perhaps Akwa Ibom should look into why their people (Akwa-Cross people) are not in management positions in the oil companies. This exercise may lead Akwa Ibom leaders to look into providing the right education to Akwa-Cross people to enable them get into management positions in the oil companies and other parastatals. It is time for the leaders of Akwa Ibom to make Akwa Ibom and Cross River regain their historic position in Nigeria. Does Akwa Ibom and Cross River Children know who Eyo Ita, Sir Udo Udoma, Eyo Uyo, the Treaty King -Obong of Calabar were? Is there any known annual lecture in their land to honor their past leaders to educate their youth in their rich history? Can Akwa Ibom and Cross River start naming their higher institutions after their heroic past leaders? Akwa Ibom needs to wake, see what other major groups are doing and regain their position in the country which the country will no doubt give a full support based on their historic and strategic position in the country.

      • Gibson George

        What does that have to do with relocating the head quarters to the state. Should Akwa Cross history be taught in the schools, ofcourse but its irrelevant to the problem at hand. The youths need jobs that the relocation can provide. Akwa Ibom has the most number of educated people in the country. Your post seem to indicate otherwise. There’s a place and time for each agitation. A hungry man doesn’t care about who a university is named after, he cares more about feeding himself and his family.

    • Ben Ikari

      TDaniels2, you lose focus hence argument or position when you cited Lagos and CBN juxtaposed Akwa Ibom state and Exxon Mobil. Lagos has no NAIRA making raw materials not to mention such materials that produce near-immediate cash as oil nor is anything CBN is doing has any pollutant effects to degrade the environment as oil, gas with their spills and flares does in Akwa Ibom and Niger delta in general.

      In addition, if you and others feels the FG has no constitutional right or duty to compel companies, oil firms in particular to relocate, what about the communities making the calls, don’t they have right? And where is Exxon Mobil’s headquarters in USA, is it not Texas, which is an oil producing state with the autonomy to extract its oil like other states in the nation and pay taxes to the central government?

      Also, have you checked the composition of workforce at the Mobil Lagos headquarters to see who makes the majority of employees or staff, especially senior staff and management; if mostly non-Akwa Ibomites and other citizens of oil producing states, don’t you think the oil producing states or communities deserve these opportunities as obvious in Texas, Mobil’s headquarters? The company, like all others has no justification not to relocate, though I feel other Nigerians, especially Yorubas who predominant Lagos and Nigeria’s economy could be or are lobbying and influencing its staying in Lagos for their benefit. It’s the money and other resources to relocate. Security or insecurity could have been a plausible position and not contacts being in Lagos and elsewhere except its operational location.

      My argument for security or insecurity if made is work to help bring justice and peace in the state and region or leave the oil in the state and region alone and go where there is no security issues. After all the insecurity is partly or foundationally caused by Mobil itself, $hell, others and the FG especially (even state governments in the region) when they conspired to rob the oil producing communities and states of their land and oil then get the environment polluted with no development and alternative sources of livelihood.

      Good enough and unfortunately for the company, insecurity which they can also put in check in concert with the federal and state, local governments isn’t considered to be one of the reasons in this report.. Simply put, if Mobil and these other oil companies love their business and the people on whose land they milk their petrodollars and relocate to the oil producing region they will appreciate the issues more and work harder to resolving whatever conflict there is—creating a more conducive, favorable business environment that benefit the communities, companies and FG.

      Anything else will mean little or no respect for the goose thus situation shall remain counterproductive as unfriendly, enemy-type stance and relationship between landlords and residents or tenants/renters will create more insecurity in the oil business circumstance. It isn’t right therefore unjust—unfair to exploit these communities/states, dumped pollution on them with no honest and serious cleanup and restoration plans, and feel ashamed or threatened to live with them.

  • Obosi Warrior

    Then, the office of the DPR, Ministry of petroleum, and the NNPC should be compelled to relocate their offices to the Niger Delta, they have no business being in Abuja.

    • Haba mallam

      So you can kidnap them and demand ransom shebi ? Oloshi

      • Otile

        Terrorist, mind that present day kidnapping is raging among your tribesmen. You don’t have any moral authority to blackmail anybody again.

      • Obosi Warrior

        You want it close to you, so it will be easy to move the stolen petro-$s into your wretched villages.
        Sorry, we don catch your brother Yakubu, and we are combing those dirty slums in the north for more.

      • Keen Observer

        Kidnap? If the oil companies provide jobs for the teeming youth populations in d Niger Delta, do you think there’ll be kidnap? ehh @Haba Mallam or whatsoeve you call yourself?
        You need to comment reasonably; ”The HEN that lay the golden eggs, should NOT be starved. Else either the Hen dies Or the eggs MUST be stolen by those who are hungry SIMPLE…!

      • Iniabasi Akpan

        Haba mallam…this story is not about groundnut or cocoa. Its about oil,..and last time I checked it can’t b found in your arid region. Why don’t u hover till when we r done discussing. Pls.

  • Niger DELTAN

    The statement by the environmental terrorist – ExxonMobil is completely nonsensical and quite irritating and provocative too. Were Niger Delta a country, ExxonMobil have located its headquarters in Lagos? Can ExxonMobil mention a single country where it does business and has its headquarters located 1 hr by air from its oil fields? It is only in Nigeria that such absurd anomaly exists.
    If Lagos is more convenient for you then my oil and gas in Eket and other parts of Akwa Ibom and the Niger Delta MUST not be convenient for you to trade in. Pure and simple.

    ——-…….
    Dear AVENGERS & Other Freedom fighting comrades,
    You are by this mail directed to ensure that Akwa Ibom is made ‘uncomfortable’ for ExxonMobil as it relates to oil exploration. Blow up all their infrastructure (But don’t kill anyone please) and their pipelines wherever you find them. We must not allow these uncircumcised economic migrant crooks to insult us. We the Niger Delta people are a noble people and we must respond to this insult with one and only one demand ———————–Relocate your headquarters or VACATE the Niger Delta. Pure & Simple. They should be given 60 days maximum to relocate.

    • John

      6 months grace please. 60 days is too small.

  • Ikemefuna

    Blow up all their pipelines and offices and they will relocate by force. No relocation, no drilling. No more no less

  • FineBoy

    They should exit.
    A willing company will take over

  • JasV

    I will not locate my business in a hostile environment where my employees can be easily kidnapped, pipelines bombed and the environment easily destroyed. That is the truth, pure and simple. This is applicable to even Lagos, albeit to a much lesser extent.

    • Dr.Dan

      You are probably refering to Bayelsa and Delta. Akwa Ibom is one of the most peaceful state with a very low crime rate.

    • Iniabasi Akpan

      Then why stick around? Get your pipelines out to Lagos n start drilling there.simple.

  • Christian Festus

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  • Rommel

    If you want hqs relocated to Niger delta, provide also conducive environment within which to operate which includes functional logistics that are found in Lagos

    • George

      Pls go back to your dead region because we are not talking of Cow Urine here but oil.

  • Nkereuwem Robert

    There is no state in Nigeria or the whole world that there is no kidnapper or other act of evil. The company has fact for that.
    And if the oil producing state want to destroy the headquarter of any company in Nigeria can do so with any limitation.
    The oil that make ur company a company belong to some people first before so called Nigeria

  • Tim

    It’s quite unfortunate the way many Nigerian’s think and react to issues. What we have to understand here is that, Exxonmobil Inc is not doing the Niger Delta or Akwa Ibom state any favour by coming to drill crude oil in their communities. Rather, it is the communities they are drilling this crude oil that is doing them the favour by giving them access to drill from there. If this issue is not politicized, I bet you, ExxonMobil would have relocated their HQ’s to Akwa Ibom State long before now. I work in the oil sector outside Nigeria and have been oportune to travel around many oil producing countries, and I tell you, it’s not done anywhere in the world. The #1 and most significant people any oil drilling company recognizes most, is the producing communities. I mean, think about it. Should you give priority to where you locate your HQ’s than the community or state you drill the crude from? Why are you able to drill the oil there and not able to locate your HQ’s there. The worth of your HQ’s and the worth of your drilling equipments and materials, which one is more costly and significant? If the so called manager is not able to live in Akwa Ibom state and run the affairs of ExxonMobil with its HQ’s in the state, and the company supports that, then, let ExxonMobil pull out from drilling in Akwa Ibom state and go to drill crude oil where their GQ’s is located. It’s simple. Their complain is baseless because, in the real sense, and with facts, the crime rate in Lagos state is far surpass that of Akwa Ibom. And yet, they are still there. Infact, let me tel you why they don’t want to relocate. ExxonMobil has no dealing with any community in Lagos state. And, with that in view, no community(ies) in Lagos state that will go to challenge of marginalizing them, or not fulfiling whatever they have agreed upon. Whereas, reverse would have been the case should their HQ’s were to be in Akwa Ibom state. So, they are hiding face in Lagos state because of their non challant attitude to fulfill their round table agreements with the producing communities in Akwa Ibom state. I wish the people of Akwa Ibom state could stand firm and together to say to ExxonMobil, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”. Two things are involved. It’s either ExxonMobil relocate their HQ’s to Akwa Ibom state or withdraw all their drilling heads, equipments, materials etc from the state. A thousand and one companies are ready to meet our demands, please. And for those who are against this proposal, don’t mind them. Better know this: It’s he who is putting on his shoes that knows whether it pains him or not”. And in this case, they don’t know but, we do.

  • TDaniels2

    Ben Imari, as a matter of principle, I don’t join issues with tribal bigots who can’t see beyond the breakfast of today. The oil producing states get 13% derivation, what have they done with monies? In addition, oil companies, invest massively into community developments, shave all you village thieves ( sorry may I should say chiefs) done with monies. I agree with the pollution issue, relocation is not the solution to the problem. The solution lies in the government and enforcement agents enforcing the rules but corruption has prevented this from happening. You sited, example of Mobil in the US and Texas. Mobil operates in Aberdeen but it’s head office is in central London. So is the case in. Malaysia, its HQ is KL but it operating base is in the Tangun jungle. You site Lagos being a Yoruba dominated state, you visit Lagos, from okoko Mike to Alabama, from Ikeja to Alabama, all the merchants are from the east,settled and accepted Lagos as their home. Why is this the case? Because the indigenous people welcomed and accepted them. Lagos is a cosmopolitan state and welcomes everyone. Can you honestly say the same about the niger delta? The answer is vividly clear! You may carry on with your bigotry but it won’t get you far. You can either decide to make progress or go the other way and keep regressing. The rest of the world is moving forward regardless of the prodigal behaviour of Nigerians!