By Onome Oghenetega
Youths from oil and gas bearing ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta region on Monday held a peaceful protest to condemn the purported plan by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to move the head office of the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) from Ekpan/Warri in Delta State.
The youths led by youth leaders from Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Isoko, and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities in Delta State vowed to resist the plot.
They stated that while the people of the region are demanding the relocation of oil multinational operating in the region to move their corporate headquarters back to Niger Delta, plans are almost completed to move NGC office to either Lagos or Abuja.
WARRI TODAY learnt that the youths had stormed the NGC office located beside the Warri Refinery in Ekpan, Uvwie Local Government Area of the state as early as 7am to register their demands.
The youths vowed to occupy the NGC premises until NNPC rescind the decision and also direct the other oil companies operating the region to relocate to their area of operations.
Addressing newsmen at the venue of the protest on behalf of the youths, the President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, condemned the move, saying youths in the region would resist plot to move the company’s head office from the region.
Omare flanked by the Presidents of Urhobo Youth Council (UYC), Mr Festus Edesiri and Mr Eric Omare and National President, Itsekiri National Youth Council (INYC), Mr Weyinmi Agbateniyiro, noted that the plot go ignite youths’ restiveness in the region.
According to him, “Youths from Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ijaw, Isoko and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities of Delta State are here because of an unfortunate and disappointing decision by a subsidiary of NNPC –Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company and the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company –to relocate their head offices to from Warri , which is the energy centre in Nigeria to Lagos.
“Most of you are aware that the Niger Delta region is the economic capital of Nigeria. All the other oil companies have their headquarters either in Abuja or in Lagos with resultant economic implications for Delta state and other states of the Niger Delta region.
“The few companies that are still remaining in Delta State are saying they want to also relocate their headquarters to Lagos, and with the premise that all industrial customers are in Lagos. We (youths) are saying that the decision is demonic and unacceptable to us.”
Omare particularly called on NNPC, Shell, Chevron and other oil multinationals operating in ther region to adhere to the presidential directive that all oil companies should move their operational bases to the region.
He added that oil firms have no reason establishing their head offices outside the region thereby depriving the states in the region from benefiting from their workers’ tax to the governments of the respective states where they operate.
“If they want to relocate their head offices from Warri to Lagos, we are simply saying that they should also take their pipelines from all parts of Delta State and Niger Delta. Delta State and other parts of Niger Delta is safe for oil companies to operate and site their headquarters.
“We are not only saying that we are against other subsidiary of NNPC leaving Delta State, but we are also saying that Chevron has no business continuing Lekki-Lagos. NNPC has no business having their tower in Abuja. NNPC should have their Tower in Delta, Rivers or Bayelsa States. We are demanding that Chevron should relocate their headquarters to Warri or Escravos”, the youth leader added.
Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has promised to intervene in the issue, and appealed to the youths to suspended pending discussion with the management of NGC.
The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mr Freeman Fregene, assured the protesting youths that his administration will do everything to ensure that the oil firms remain in the state.
The Executive Director Asset Management and Technical service of Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC), Engr. Emmanuel Akinsanya, who briefly spoke on behalf of the company, denied the allegation.
Akinsanya noted that NGC and NGMC had no plans of relocating its headquarters from the state saying that it was mere a rumour without any iota of truth.