By Eseoghene Emuke
The managements of Nigeria Gas Company (NGC) and the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC) have denied allegation that the two companies have almost concluded plans to move their head offices in Ekpan, near Warri, in the Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State to either Lagos or Abuja.
Youths numbering over one thousand from oil and gas bearing communities in the state had besieged the NGC head office on Monday over reported moves to relocate the head offices of the companies from the Niger Delta region.
The youths at the peaceful protest demanded the management of NGC and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to rescind the decision as there was no reason to move the offices from the region from where gas is produced.
The protesters drawn from Urhobo, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities also urged the federal government to enforce the presidential directive urging oil multinationals to return to the region where they operate.
The management spoke at the end of a closed-door meeting with the Delta State Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mr Freeman Fregene and leadership of youth bodies from the various ethnic nationalities on Monday.
The Executive Director Asset Management and Technical Services, NGMC, Engr. Emmanuel Akinsanya, who spoke after the meeting for the companies, said they were not contemplating of moving their offices from the state.
While thanking the state government for urgently intervening, Akinsanya urged the public to discountenance the rumour as it was laced with falsehood.
Also speaking, the commissioner for oil and gas, Fregene, who represented Governor Ifeanyi Okowa at the meeting, said from what they have been told, the companies were not thinking of moving their head offices from Warri.
Okowa, however, assured the protesting youths that his administration will do everything to ensure that the oil firms remain in the state.
The President of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, had told newsmen during the protest that youths in the region would resist plot to move the company’s head offices 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 is capable of igniting 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.”