The Delta State Government has called on Oil and Gas Producing Communities in the state to sustain the existing peace in order to enhance the synergy among critical stakeholders and development partners in the oil and gas sector.
The State Commissioner Ministry for Oil and Gas, Mr Freeman Fregene stated this in Ughelli during a Consultative Stakeholders Forum with Oil and Gas producing communities in Delta central in continuation of the state government’s aggressive engagement sessions with representatives of host communities of oil and gas.
The Oil and Gas Commissioner said Delta State had witnessed a steady increase in oil and gas production in recent times as a result of the relative peace in the Niger Delta region, emphasizing the need for host communities of oil and gas in the state to give peace a chance for multinationals and other oil and gas companies to operate in the state.
Mr Fregene stated that the forum with the theme “Curbing Youth Restiveness and Criminalities in the Oil and Gas Sector for Sustainable Development in Delta State”, was part of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa determined efforts at ensuring the return of multinationals that left the state in the heat of insecurity in the Niger Delta region.
He noted that the engagement sessions will compliment the federal government’s quest for peace in the Niger Delta region and also to encourage the return of multinational oil companies which relocated from the state in the heat of insecurity.
Mr Fregene noted that for the state’s economy to grow the synergy between critical stakeholders in the oil and gas sector must be sustained and appealed to host communities to avoid rancour with the oil companies.
The Oil and Gas Commissioner urged communities to shun excessive and unnecessary monetary demands for oil companies operating in their areas as the state government has signed into law the the bill prohibiting multiple levies demanded from investors and developers, pointing out that such act discourages infrastructural development.
While stressing that acts such as illegal refining of crude oil, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping and incessant demands for development is inimical to the progress and development of the state, Mr Fregene urged oil and gas companies and host communities to ensure that there are inputs from the state government during signing of Memorandum of Understanding, MOUs.
He added that the Ministries of Oil and Gas and Justice have been mandated to always interface with oil companies and host communities with a view to tackling all issues that threaten peace in the oil and gas sector.
Mr Fregene also announced the state government plans to construct an industrial gas park in Kwale and a modular refinery in Sapele as part of effort to harness the huge oil and gas deposits as the state had forty percent out of the one hundred and ninety two trillion standard cubic feet of has deposits in Nigeria.
The Oil and Gas Commissioner maintained that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was desirous to sustain peace in the oil and gas sector through dialogue as every agitation can be settled and stressed the need for stakeholders to join the campaign against all forms of criminalities for sustained development.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Oil and Gas, Mrs Nkem Ajufo and the Director of Local Content, Mr Aweka Avwenaghagha said oil and gas producing communities should take advantage of the Ministry to nip any issues arising from the operations of oil and gas companies that could lead to hostilities as government was determined to create a peaceful atmosphere for international oil companies to operate.
In a lecture titiled “Curbing Youth Restiveness and Criminality in the Oil and Gas Sector for Sustainable Development in Delta State” a Senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Delta State University, Abraka, Dr Princewill Okereka said youth restiveness in the Niger Delta had been predominant resulting in acts of violence, lawlessness, hostage taking, illegal bunkering among others.
He said the Okowa led administration was changing the narratives with sensitization and consultative stakeholders meetings with host communities adding that agitation is good but when it becomes destructive then it is bad.
Dr Okereka recommended that the state government and oil companies should show enough concern to the development of infrastructure in host communities while federal government should demonstrate commitment towards ensuring that the Petroleum Industry Management Bill becomes a reality.
He said oil and gas companies should show genuine commitment to honour agreements and memorandum of understanding signed with host communities.
Representatives of the host communities commended the state government for the interactive forum but stressed the need for government to do more in the development of oil bearing communities.
They urged government to help ensure that Oil and gas companies execute the MOU signed with host communities.
The representatives also stressed the need for multinationals to relocate their headquarters to Delta State were they are exploring and exploiting oil as well as enlarge the consultative forum that includes representatives of oil companies and all related agencies including NDDC and DESOPADEC.