Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo Orders The Relocation of Oil Companies

As part of the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s consultations with stakeholders in the Niger Delta, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in Akwa Ibom State and, in keeping with what this newspaper has consistently advocated for years, ordered all major oil companies to relocate their headquarters to the neglected region.

This is a good development, after such a long time of its desirability. It is, therefore, a policy directive that should be carried out with utmost vigour, sincerity and a sense of urgency. Peace in the Niger Delta is synonymous with peace and security in the country and an execution of this directive will be one major step towards an enabling environment for Nigeria’s greater prosperity.

Soon after the discovery of oil in Oloibiri in 1958, the Niger Delta became host to major oil prospecting firms. Through the years, whereas exploration and extraction were carried out in the interior of the region, the major oil firms maintained their headquarters in Lagos and Abuja.
The effect was that these multinationals became insensitive to the ecological and human disaster that exploration created for the oil-bearing communities. To make matters worse, even their middle level workers insultingly hopped in and out of the region indicating that management and middle level staff had no obligations whatsoever to the communities. It did not take long before the people of the region became restive. The many years of neglect had taken its toll and the people thought enough was enough. Given this insensitivity of the oil companies and the neglect of the people by the Nigerian state, the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta was inevitable. And it has been relentlessly violent.

In spite of many years of extracting billions of dollars worth of crude oil from the soil of the region, there is virtually nothing to show in return. The social and economic conditions of the Niger Delta are simply appalling. Apart from poor infrastructure, the region lacks basic necessities which the wealth that had been extracted from its earth could provide. There were instances where host communities lived in years of darkness while their ‘guests’ (the oil firms) provided twenty-four hours of electricity for themselves. Aquatic life was destroyed. Farmlands were often covered with huge oil spills, and clean-ups were half-heartedly embarked upon by these firms.

It is against this background that the symbolic importance of the administration’s order to the oil firms should be appreciated. By relocating to the region, they would not only be obliged to make contributions to the economies of the host states, they would be sending the right signals to the people that they are with them. It is on record that once oil majors moved out of Warri and its environs, the economic life of that once-boisterous town went downhill. Therefore, if the oil majors move their headquarters to Warri, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Calabar, Benin and Yenagoa, they would be more sensitive to the plight of the host communities. Leadership which feels the pain of the people is usually more responsive and progressive. The state governments would also have the opportunity of dealing directly with the companies on policy formulation and implementation.

Also, the multiplier effects of their relocation will be enormous. Apart from jobs that would naturally be at the disposal of people of the region, all ancillary services would be provided by small scale businesses in the host towns. This will create employment and help reduce tension. To be sure, the oil majors would be compelled to address the imbalance in employment quota which activists and stakeholders in the Niger Delta have always complained about.

Peace in the Niger Delta is crucial to the survival of the Nigerian state. The violent attacks on pipelines and oil installations have affected the finances of the country, owing to decreased output of oil. It is instructive that the Acting President’s visits calmed nerves and created a stable environment for discussions. It is only in a peaceful environment that issues surrounding resource control can be discussed and mutually agreed on. The Federal Government should, therefore, maintain its stand on the issue of bringing peace to the Niger Delta.

To give strong backing to the order, a time frame for relocation should be given and the oil majors must act in good faith and show corporate social responsibility to the host communities.

On their part, the host communities and state governments should welcome the oil firms with open arms. They should ensure that an atmosphere of peace is truly ensured to allay the fears of the returning firms and corporations. By reining in the youths and fostering positive engagement, normalcy would return to the relationship between and among all the parties involved in the process of nation building.

Buhari Hale and Hearty, Ignore Scary Messages- Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has urged Nigerians to disregard the subversive messages being circulated via text messaging and the Social Media, saying the fabricated messages are being orchestrated by those who feel threatened by the emerging order.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said there is no iota of truth in the messages being circulated on the health of the President, who is hale and hearty, and the purported emergency meetings of the State Governors in Abuja or anywhere.

He said the naysayers have also resorted to the use of ethnicity and religion as tools to divide Nigerians, overheat the polity and cause panic among the citizenry, in addition to using fake news and disinformation to distort government activities.

Alhaji Mohammed said while opposition and criticism are all part of democracy, the crafting and circulation of subversive materials and scare-mongering are not, hence the full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on those who are bent on subverting the state.

”The source/sources of the fabricated messages are already being investigated and the authors should prepare to face the consequences of their actions.

”The emerging trend of resorting to destabilisation and scare-mongering is not unexpected, considering this government’s clamp-down on the corrupt elements in the society, the plugging of all financial leaks which has derailed the gravy train of the looters of public treasury and the enthronement of probity and transparency in the polity.

”While we will neither stifle press freedom nor abridge the citizens’ right to express themselves freely, whether through criticism or protests, the security agencies will neither allow any resort to violence nor a willful subversion of the state for whatever reason,” he warned.

Pres Buhari Approves the Reconstitution of the Financial Reporting Council Of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate removal and the replacement of the Executive Secretary and the reconstitution of the board of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRN). He has appointed a Chairman and a new Executive Secretary for the council.
This is according to a statement by a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Pulicity, Mr Garba Shehu.
According to Shehu, “The new Council as approved by the President has Mr Adedotun Sulaiman, MFR as Chairman. Mr. Sulaiman was a former Managing Partner/Director of Arthur Anderson and later, Accenture. He is a Chartered Accountant and a product of the University of Lagos and Harvard Business School.
“The President has also approved the appointment of Mr. Daniel Asapokhai as the Executive Secretary of the Council. Mr. Asopokhai is a partner and a Financial Reporting Specialist at the PricewaterHouseCoopers (PWC), Nigeria. He is a product of the University of Lagos and the University of Pretoria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has also instructed the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment to invite the nineteen ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government and private sector organizations specified in the FRC Act to nominate members of the board of the council.”

Buhari is Eager and Working Hard to Reflate the Economy- Amaechi

The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi has said President Buhari is eager and working hard to reflate Nigeria’s economy, fulfill the needs and aspirations of Nigerians and fulfill his campaign promises.

He also added that the Ministry of Transportation will shift attention to the rehabilitation of old railway lines of Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri after the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway project.

Speaking in Abuja on Friday, December 23, through Yetunde Sonaike, the director of press and public relations department in the ministry of transportation, Amaechi said that President Buhari is eager to reflate the economy and deliver to the people the gains of his administration.

Amaechi went on to list his achievements saying that his ministry was able to: complete the Abuja–Kaduna Railway modernisation project and provide safety measures at the nation’s airports through rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure within the airports.

He said that there were also on-going rehabilitation of infrastructure at the seaports and the railway as well as instilling financial discipline in the ministry and its agencies among others.

On the focus of the government ahead of 2017, Amaechi said his ministry will shift attention to the rehabilitation of the old railway lines of Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri and also ensure that the construction works on the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Rail line was completed within the specified time.

According to him, the government is determined to ensure that works on Lagos-Kano Rail line commence in earnest to facilitate the movement of goods and passengers unhindered.

“The construction work on the Lagos-Ibadan segment of the Coastal Rail line will commence in January 2017,” Amaechi said.