Aiteo acquired OML 29 in Nembe from Shell but has had its hands full of troubles including litigations, vandalism, fires, and youth restiveness. While this goes on, there has been deafening silence from local authorities. The company is said to have paid $82m to Shell for the transaction but the litigants are up in arms against the action.
Now, Aiteo seems to find a window to win some love from the local authorities especially the state government which seeks independent funding for educational development.
Now, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company has pledged N0.5 billion to the Bayelsa Education Development Trust Fund (BEDTF) at the fund raising ceremony in Yenagoa on Friday.
Managing Director, Victor Okoronkwo, pledged the sum on behalf of the Founder of Aiteo Group, Benedict Peters, while bemoaning frequent vandalisation of the Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL) linking its oilfields in Bayelsa to Bonny Export Terminal.
Speaking at the Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall, venue of the fund raising, he stated that the donation was an indication that Aiteo shared the aspirations of the state government in seeking to use education to fight youth restiveness.
Okoronkwo expressed optimism at the pledge of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson to provide an enabling environment for the operations of the indigenous oil firm in the state.
His words: “I wish to state here that our business as operators of the OML 29 has not been stable. It has been up and down and we are pleaser by the assurances given by the Bayelsa government.
“We are being hosted by Bayelsa and we see Bayelsa as home: we are here to stay and we want the people to understand that oil and gas investment is for the long term.”
Earlier, Bayelsa State Governor, Dickson, said that his administration had invested about N80Bn in the education sector from 2012 till date and initiated the fund in 2017 with a view to sustaining it beyond his tenure in 2020.
Dickson explained that the state government has dedicated 10 per cent of its monthly internally generated revenue to the BEDTF in addition to monthly contributions by all public servants in the state.
BEDTF chairman, Turner Isoun, a former Minister of Science and Technology, had disclosed that the fund had over N1.0Bn under its management and it is being run in a transparent manner with its books open to external auditing.
Isoun stated: “I wish to state that the request I made while accepting to serve the fund that government should not interfer with the running of this fund has been heeded to the letter and I report that our books are open.
“We adopted a transparent approach and what we have seen is a blend of the public interest of the public sector and the efficiency of the private sector working together to uplift education in Bayelsa.”
As part of the launch and fund raising, Gov Dickson also commissioned the Education House, an edifice that houses the Ministry of Education and all its parastatals in the state.