Governors of the South-East and South-South states and other stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to prevail on multinational oil and gas corporations to relocate their corporate headquarters to their areas of core operations in the two regions.
The governors lamented that despite providing the necessary logistic support to the security agencies, perceptions of insecurity are on the rise, preventing inflow of direct foreign and local investment into the regions.
These were contained in a statement endorsed by the Chairman of the South-East and South-South Governors’ Forum and Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, at the end of its meeting at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The leaders said the emerging trend where approvals for investments in the oil and gas industry are granted for siting in locations outside where the resources are domiciled was unacceptable.
In attendance at the meeting were Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers State), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
The deputy governors who represented their governors were Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd) of Bayelsa, Dr. Nkem Okeke (Anambra), Philip Shaibu (Edo) and Prof. Ivara Esu (Cross River).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had earlier this year directed all multinationals operating outside the oil producing states to relocate their corporate headquarters there. But this directive is yet to be heeded.
The Secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDF) and former President, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, said the demand for the oil companies to relocate to the two regions was a reflection of the mood in these areas.
Mitee said PANDF had made a similar demand on the Federal Government which later issued a directive to the companies to relocate to the oil producing states.
He challenged the Federal Government to demonstrate clearly that it has the will to effect its directives.
The President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, said it was gratifying that the governors of the regions added their voice to the clamour.
“The emphasis is the corporate headquarters and not operational headquarters. We want the corporate headquarters where the directors and other executive officers of these companies work from. This will also encourage the indigenous companies to relocate to these regions,” he said.
According to Omare, the IYC and other critical stakeholders have played a significant role in ensuring that calm is restored to the Niger Delta, hence, they expected Osinbajo to reciprocate by ensuring the enforcement of an earlier directive to multinational oil companies to relocate to the Niger Delta.
On the issue of security, the governors described the Federal Government’s presence in the regions as very minimal and only noticeable in the presence of policemen.
They expressed the determination to overcome this through regional efforts, share resources, intelligence and denying sanctuaries to criminal elements in their different territories.
The forum urged security agencies to set up joint border patrol teams and develop more proactive strategies in combating crimes.
Other issues discussed include the deplorable state of federal roads in the two regions. The governors asked the Federal Government to come up with a clear policy on concession of its roads and to hasten the process in order to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the regions.
Governor Emmanuel said it was regrettable that none of the airports and seaports located in the two regions is reasonably functional. He said the governors also noticed that the two regions are not linked by any rail services.
The forum acknowledged the urgent need to establish and link cities in the two regions with railways and super highways and provide viable and affordable flight services between their cities, as well as ensure that cargoes are brought into the country through seaports, jetties and ferry services in the regions as a veritable means of stimulating economic growth and social progress.
Governor Emmanuel said the two regions would soon make their position known on the ongoing constitutional review. The governors condemned hate speech in national discourse, whether in individual communication or utterances of political actors or parties.
At the closed-door meeting that lasted several hours, the governors said they were determined to reinforce resolutions taken at the inaugural meeting of the forum at Enugu, and take practical steps to identify and define the different strands of cooperation and integration as well as establishing the institutional framework to advance and consolidate the drive towards achieving the noble objectives.
They committed themselves to working together politically, align and re-align as a people that share common heritage, culture and affinity.
The forum is expected to reconvene in Owerri, Imo State on October 8, 2017.