…Says security is pre-condition for oil firms to return
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is very committed to the development of Bayelsa State and other states of the Niger Delta, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva said on Monday.
He spoke in Yenagoa, at the special town hall meeting organized by the Bayelsa State Government and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources with chiefs, youths and other stakeholders in the state. The interactive session was a directive by Mr. President after the ENDSARS protest last year, for ministers and other top government functionaries to enlighten Nigerians about the plans and programmes of the Federal Government.
Chief Sylva affirmed that the Federal Government is willing to promote more investments that will create jobs and prosperity for citizens and residents of the state. He listed the Nigerian Content Tower as one of top achievements of the current administration.
The Minister further stated that the Federal Government is promoting the development of Nigerian Oil and Gas Park at Ogbia LGA of the state and is facilitating the development of two modular refineries within the state, notably the 12,000 barrels per day Hydroskimming modular refinery being constructed by Azikel Petroleum Limited at Obunagha, Gbarain, and the 2000 barrels per day modular refinery being developed by Atlantic International Refinery and Petrochemical Limited at Okpoama, Brass Local Government Area.
He added that the Federal Government has also taken final investment decision on the Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Project, among other projects.
He affirmed that the various projects will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs for Bayelsans and other Nigerians during the construction stage as well as the operations phase of the facilities.
Speaking further, Sylva has charged residents and stakeholders in Bayelsa State to embrace unity and collaborative spirit in order to enjoy more developmental strides.
He said: “From this meeting, we expect a lot more understanding because some of the problems we have are as result of breakdown in communication. This forum will create a platform to understand the plans of what the state government is doing and how the Federal Government can also assist in order to create a better life for the people,” Sylva said.
Responding to calls for the relocation of oil companies to the Niger Delta region, the Minister maintained that youths and residents of the region must eschew restiveness and work for peace and security as preconditions for multinationals to relocate. He stressed that asking the companies to relocate without addressing the security concerns would only escalate Nigeria’s cost of crude oil production, which is one of the highest among OPEC members. According to him: “We look at it from the perspective of cost. It will be cheaper for oil companies to operate from here because it is nearer from the operating areas. The only concern is that we have a responsibility to bring peace and security because that is another source of cost. If you don’t have peace and security and the oil companies move back here, then you add to the cost of oil production.”
He insisted that it would make sense to the oil companies to return if the environment is safe because it will be cheaper for them. He added: “They were before. Shell was in Port Harcourt and Warri and most of other companies were here. They only ran away when insecurity took over the region. It is time to bring back peace and security so that those firms can return.” On our part as the Ministry we are not against the oil companies moving back.”
In his remarks, the Executive Governor, Bayelsa State, His Excellency, Douye Diri applauded the peace building initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari. He also pleaded for unity, synergy, collaboration and cooperation from all parties to move the state forward.
While appreciating the President for some of the Federal projects ongoing within the state, Diri pleaded with the Federal Government to commence the Nembe/Brass road.
“All the projects that you have sited in Brass LGA will become Elephant projects if we do not have a road leading there.”
He noted that Brass LGA and Southern Ijaw LGA are some of the few Local Government headquarters in Nigeria that are not accessible by road. Diri pledged his readiness to collaborate with the Federal Government to ensure that all federal investments in the state are protected.
The engagement had in attendance representatives of the State in the National Assembly, State Assembly members, leaders of youth groups, traditional rulers as well as members of the Civil Society Groups.