Niger Delta stakeholders have faulted relocation of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) from Lagos to Abuja, describing Federal Government’s move as insensitive and provocative.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, had explained that moving the new DPR complex named The Barrel to Abuja was to reposition the oil and gas sector for effective service delivery.
But the action angered stakeholders of the region following failure to heed their many years of requesting the relocation of operational headquarters of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to the oil-producing areas for greater development of the region.
They had argued that the contributions of IOCs to the development of the region were not commensurate with the revenues being derived from oil and the hazards to their environment in the region.
The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) led by Chief Edwin Clark, had in 2017 presented a 16-point demand to President Muhammed Buhari in Abuja, including the relocation of oil majors to their host communities, ownership of oil blocks and revival of key infrastructure, among others.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo during a visit to Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, in continuation of Federal Government’s peace overtures to Niger Delta region, had ordered the oil majors to relocate their headquarters to the host communities.
Reacting to the Federal Government’s decision, National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, insisted that the relocation of DPR from Lagos to Abuja was insensitive, callous and provocative.
Also, former President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, said the move was a slight on the Niger Delta people, who had been demanding relocation of IOCs to the oil-bearing communities.
Mitee said it was only in Nigeria that the source of revenue would be taken away from the owners to develop other places while neglecting the host communities.
He recalled that during his visit to the region, Osinbajo had assured that the government would implement their demands to engender peace between the region and the Federal Government, but lamented that none of the promises had been fulfilled so far.
He, therefore, called on the government to urgently reverse the policy to favour the region.
On his part, National Coordinator of South-South Elders Forum, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, said it was sad and unfortunate that four years after Osinbajo directed the oil majors to relocate to the region, none of them had heeded the directive and the Federal Government had done nothing to implement the directive.
“We are not happy, if they are taking our resources and cannot bring their headquarters here over excuses of insecurity, then they should stop taking our oil. If they can take our oil without security and go to develop other places, then we cannot take it anymore.
“If the Federal Government gave a directive and cannot implement it, then it is deceiving us that we are one Nigeria. We will not accept a situation where they mine gold in Zamfara and sell everything, but continue to take crude oil from our soil and pollute our homes and farms lands,” he stated.