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Relocate Back To N’Delta Where You Make Your Money – Stakeholders Tell Oil Coys

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… Say Payment Of Taxes Not Enough

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
STAKEHOLDERS from the Niger Delta region have urged oil and gas companies operating within the region to relocate their headquarters back to the region to boost economic development.

According to them, if the region is safe to drill oil and gas, it is also safe for headquarters of any oil and gas company operating within the region, maintaining that payment of taxes to host communities was nothing compared to development of the oil rich region.

They spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers state during the sub-technical section of the 4th national council on Niger Delta.

Declaring the section open, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo who expressed fear that the region was harbouring army of jobless youths, urged oil and gas companies operating within the region to relocate their headquarters back for the growth of the region.

Her words: “The recent protest is an eye opener that we have an army of jobless youths waiting for something to trigger them to action and we will definitely do not want to see an upsurge of insecurity in our region but we want to see a complete play down, so that we can receive investors.

“So that the headquarters of all gas companies will be relocated back to our region because the region is safe to drill oil and gas, why would it not be safe for the headquarters of these companies.

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“If we do not want any excuse to be given to the operators there, their headquarters will be relocated here so that we will continue to see growth and development of our region.” She said.

According to Banigo, the problem of the region was lack of leadership and the political will to move the region out of the menace, adding that stakeholders in the region are not oblivious of a viable roadmap to bring the region out of the social economic challenges that have bedevilled it.

She recalled that, between year 2000 and 2004, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) came up with a plan with an estimate of 50billion dollars to transform the region within 15years period, adding that investigation revealed that over 47billion dollars have been invested in NDDC for development projects from the commencement of the master plan in the year 2000 till date which marks about the 15years deadline.

Banigo continued: “But regrettably the master plan remains a mystery till date, it is equally more worrisome that the national assembly house committee on NDDC and indeed the federal government have done very little or nothing to probe or halt such a misnomer”

“Over the years, it will seem as if various issues have been derailing the Nobel objectives for the establishment of the NDDC among which is to build infrastructures, human capacity development and to alleviate the environmental degradation in the region”

“The increasing rate of abandoned projects by the NDDC, frequent changes in leadership, massive corruption, lack of accountability and lack of monitoring to tell us were we are and were we are going”

“Tell the stakeholders of the region so we know the direction we are going. The issue of visionless and self-centred leadership seems to have been the hall mark and a character of what we have been seen as a commission”

“From what we have seen in the past is a clear deviation from our founding fathers like Ken Sarowiwa who fought to guarantee a peaceful and prosperous future for the Niger Delta”

Banigo urged participants to come up with a long term workable guidelines, institutional legislative framework that will chat a visible and pragmatic policy roadmap that will not only show the way to go but hopefully also redeem the very many lost years.

She added: “Let me recall the verdict of the court that makes it mandatory for the NDDC to work with governor’s of the region for the execution of development projects in their respective states”

“This is not to interfere with what the NDDC is doing but it is to make sure that we work together in concept and in collaboration and maximise the resources to get the greatest impact for our people.”

President of Host communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and gas, (HOSTCOM), Chief Dr. Benjamin Style HOSTCOM in his recommendation further urged Oil and gas companies to relocate from where they are back to the region where they are making their money to add more value to the economic development of the region rather than paying taxes.

Citing Zamfara state as a case study, Style contended that all Niger Delta governor’s should be given opportunity to manage the resources of gas flaring in their region.

He added: “HOSTCOM should benefit from the investment on domestic gas flaring, environmental sustainability to preserve the means of livelihood of citizens in the region should be promoted”

“IThere should be a coastal road from cross river state, akwa ibom, rivers, Delta, bayelsa, Edo, Ondo down to Lagos to ease transportation of goods and services.”

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