– SSA says N11 trillion worth of projects abandoned over the years; that is why Buhari insists on completing inherited projects
Niger States expecting the oil majors and other federal government oil/gas institutions to move their headquarters over to the oil region as ordered by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, in his capacity as Acting President two years ago, may have to wait for a longer time to come. This is because the presidency has explained why the IOCs would not be forced to comply.
Edohor Iyamu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta in the office of the Vice President, disclosed in a interview with some newsmen in Port Harcourt at the weekend that the factors that drove away the oil majors have yet to change.
The SSA also revealed why President Muhammadu Buhari is bent on completing as many abandoned projects as possible instead of initiating many new one, saying with N11 Trillion worth of abandoned projects over the years, it would be wicked to start new ones and allow the huge value to waste.
Answering questions on why the presidency has failed to make the IOCs move to the Niger Delta as he had promised the oil region at the instance of President Buhari when he visited the region during the return of militancy, Iyamu said: “Certain things happened at a time that led to the IOCs leaving the region to Lagos. Certain situations existed then. The question we should ask ourselves is whether that situation has improved.”
He went on: “Insecurity is the concern of the IOCs in the oil region. At the time of their exit, there were rampant kidnapping, killing, militancy, etc. Can we say confidently today that that situation does no longer exist? That situation has not really improved. So, the VP compelling them to come back would be rather unfair. That is why we are doing our best to improve security situation in the region.”
He said the FG is rather doing its best to resolve the issues and encourage the IOCs to comply with the order, saying they had presented their case to the presidency on why they could not comply.
He said: “I said we don’t want this new vision to fail. It is a partnership between the FG and the local communities for security in the region; otherwise, the investors and IOCs would find it difficult to come to the region for obvious reasons. This is like a charge to our community leaders and influencers in the region to come together and explain to those doing this harm that they are doing more harm to the region than good and that it is important to play down the issues of security. There is responsibility of the government and from what we have said today, we have shown the myriad of things being done to the region, Maritime University is up and running, Modular Refineries almost completed; two are about to come on stream, actual Ogoni clean up is going to kick-off, the gar flare commercialisation (converting the flare to profit) has been initiated, etc.”
Asked why the presidency failed to explain to the people why it has not forced its orders, the SSA said it would be irresponsible of any government to do so. “It is an ongoing thing. If you gave the order and the IOCs come forward to explain why they cannot immediately move down to the region, it would be a failure by the government to say, oh, you can now stay back. What the government has done is to try and improve on the security situation so we can come back to them and say, look, the security situation is better.”
He went on: “ That is why we all have a role to play. Those in the communities can now say, look, there is this effort by the government, let us do our own part. That is why we are doing our best to engage the communities to see what the FG has done and know what they can do. This is to make the IOCs know that the coast is now clear to move back. It is better than just tell them to remain where they are because government has seen reason for them not to move to the oil region. The task is, what can we do to address it.
“The FG is doing a lot. Intelligence is going on, engaging the community youths on pipeline surveillance in the communities so that there can be peace. No responsible government will say, go into a place where you know is insecure and they are kidnapping there. They are human beings too. So, whoever we need to talk to say, look, we are doing ourselves more harm, we are doing it.”
He explained that despite criticism, President Buhari is committed to completing abandoned projects, knowing they would help the masses. He mentioned the Maritime University in Okerenkeko, Niger Bridge, and many others as examples.