The Akwa Ibom State government has responded to ExxonMobil’s explanation on why it cannot relocate its head office in Nigeria, from Lagos to Akwa Ibom where it drills oil.
The company had said in a correspondence exclusively published by PREMIUM TIMES that “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 three affiliates of ExxonMobil operating in Nigeria are Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (upstream), Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd (upstream) and Mobil Oil Nigeria (downstream).
The argument over the years has been that Lagos, much more than any other state in Nigeria, has needed infrastructure to support the operations of large multinational oil companies like ExxonMobil, that have head offices there.
But critics slam the arrangement, saying it deprives oil-rich Niger Delta host states of huge tax revenue and job support for locals.
The governor of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel, on Wednesday said he knew what ExxonMobil wanted to relocate to the state, and said his government was prepared to meet that condition.
“I know what you want to move your headquarters to the state. If you give me commitment of 24 months, I will provide it,” he said in Uyo at an oil and gas fair.
He said the state deserves fair treatment in oil and gas business.
“Let me say here, let our losses not be the gains of other areas who had never seen how crude oil look like, let our losses not be the gains of our neighbouring countries, let our losses not be the gains of the Western world but let our gains be shared among ourselves,” Mr. Emmanuel said.
“As an oil company operating in Akwa Ibom, if you need to hire a vessel, let it be that if Akwa Ibom person cannot provide the vessel, you can take it from a Niger Delta person and if somebody from Niger Delta cannot provide then you can hire it from any Nigerian. Let our people be given a chance.”
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 Vice 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 directive was seen as a major boost to campaigns by Niger Delta States to have oil companies relocate to their states of operation.
“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,” Nduese Essien, a former minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, had said of Mobil during the town hall meeting in Uyo with Mr. Osinbajo.
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Charles Udoh, told PREMIUM TIMES that the state government was waiting for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to inform it of the next action after Mr. Osinbajo’s directive.
“It’s a directive that was given by the acting president of Nigeria, and so every company who does business in Nigeria is subjected to the laws, regulations and directives of the of the government of the day,” Mr. Udoh said.
“If the federal government is hell-bent on making it work in line with our demand, then I strongly believe that the federal government will sit down with them (IOCs) and make it work. I strongly believe there will be a compromise somewhere that will make all parties happy at the end of the day,” he said.
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