As host communities insist on Shell return
By Christiana Ekpa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara yesterday said the probe on the relocation of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, will be transparent with its investigations, provided the company had adequately performed its social responsibility to host communities.
Speaking at a one-day investigative hearing entitled: ‘Need to Investigate the Relocation of SPDC relocation from Warri, organised by the Committee on Petroleum Resources, Upstream, Dogara said, “This probe is a fact finding exercise and it shall be thorough with a great sense of responsibility.”
The Speaker, who was represented by the Minority Whip, Rep Umar Barde said “The relocation of SPDC operational headquarters to Lagos and Port Harcourt was devastating to the host communities; and all efforts to bring it back have failed.”
SPDC, in its submission before the committee, said that the relocation of its operational headquarters to Warri, Delta State, is impossible due to the subsisting insecurity in the area and other places in the Niger Delta region of the country.
At the hearing, the company’s representative, Dr. Steve Okwuosah, said that militancy, pipeline vandalism and other criminal activities, still hold sway in Warri and other parts of Niger Delta region; and so would not allow for a smooth operation of company’s facilities in the area.
He said the company had lost billions of dollars in its operations in the region, owing to insecurity and called for the protection of its facilities by the relevant security agencies of the federal government.
But the House Committee, the Delta State Government, as well as host communities of oil companies operating in the region, have insisted that the operational headquarters of the company must be relocated to Warri for economic reasons.
Both the Secretary to the Delta State Government, Hon. Festus Ovie Agas, and Chief Edward Ekpoko, Chairman Ijaw,Isoko and Itsekiri Leaders Forum, have insisted that the company must relocate its operational headquarters to Warri for smooth operations.
They insisted that militancy and pipeline vandalism had been reduced to the barest minimum in the area; and so could not have been the reason by the company for refusing to relocate to its operational headquarters.
Chairman of the House Committee, Rep Victor Nwokolo, in his remarks said that insecurity can no longer be adduced as reason for the non-relocation of the company to its operational headquarters.
He insisted that the Delta State is now the investment destination for oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region of the country.
Other lawmakers, Rep Daniel Reyenieju (Delta, PDP) Rep Goodluck Opia (Imo, APC) and Rep Toby Okechukwu(Enugu, PDP) blamed the federal and state governments for prevalence insecurity in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Reyenieju particularly lamented that the Delta State Government that has 55 percent stake in the company’s assets could not be adequately represented at the investigative public hearing.