By Eseoghene Emuke
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has explained that his comment on the alleged relocation of the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) from Ekpan near Warri in Delta State was aimed at dousing the rumour that has greeted the alleged proposed relocation among the people of the Niger Delta region.
Omo-Agege reemphasized and maintained that oil multinationals should relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta region in compliance with the earlier directive of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo so as to accelerate economic and physical development of the region.
The Deputy President of the Senate had recently during the ministerial screening called on the National Assembly to stop the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from relocating headquarters of NGC from Ekpan.
He had also demanded that oil multinational companies should equally honour the directive of the Vice President, Prof Osinbajo, directing them to move their cooperate headquarters to the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
But NNPC while reacting to Omo-Agege’s call, said there was no plan to relocate its subsidiary, Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), outside the Niger Delta region.
A statement signed by the spokesman of the corporation, Ndu Ughamadu, however described as unfortunate as such was coming from the office of the Deputy President of the Senate, Omo-Agege.
Ughamadu had in the statement maintained that, “The Corporation maintains that the Deputy President of the Senate might have either been misinformed or was quoted out of context.”
But reacting to NNPC’s statement through his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, the Deputy President of the Senate said he spoke from an informed position since the matter was already causing anxieties among the people of the region.
According to Omo-Agege, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation stating that the Deputy President of the Senate, Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege , was either misinformed or must have been quoted out of context in his plea for multinationall oil companies to relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta region.
“Specifically, he had sought a commitment that the planned relocation of the headquarters of the Nigerian Gas Company from Ekpan-Warri in Delta state should be dropped as it’s relocation could jeopardise developmental strides in the area.
“While it is gratifying that the NNPC, in the statement signed by its General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, has assured all the stakeholders in the region that neither the NGC nor any of its other subsidiaries would be relocated outside the area of operation, the following clarifications have become necessary.
“First, there have been widespread anxieties among stakeholders in the Niger Delta over alleged plans for the relocation of the NGC; it has been on the front burner for many months before the Deputy President of the Senate drew attention to it during the ministerial screening.”
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Omo-Agege said as the representative of the people of the region he would continue to leverage on his position to ensure that last peace and socio-economic development return to the once-trouble region.
He added that the issue of the alleged relocation has been on the front burner for months as youths and key stakeholders had been protesting against the development.
“The issue, it must be stressed, was the focus of a peaceful youthful protest by Niger Delta youths earlier in January this year at the premises of the NGC and this disrupted the activities of the gas firm until an official from the Delta State Government and other stakeholders intervened and normalcy was restored. This particular event was widely reported and it was given ample coverage in The Guardian newspaper of January 8, 2019 with the title “Delta youths protest against planned relocation of gas company.’
“It is clear to us that Senator Omo-Agege has spoken from a position of informed knowledge and it is very unfortunate that the NNPC would rather deploy such indecorous and intemperate language to dismiss efforts to douse anxieties, especially in a matter that touches on the economic prosperity of the Niger Delta region.
“As far as the Deputy Senate President is concerned, he would continue to maintain his demand that multinationall oil companies should, in compliance with an earlier plea made by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, relocate their headquarters to the region while guaranteeing the safety of the workers. This will further help in the accelerated economic and physical development of the area as there would be massive employment opportunities with anticipated return of the oil servicing firms that also relocated alongside the multinationall companies.
“The Deputy Senate President aims to leverage on his position to ensure that complete peace returns to the Niger Delta so that it’s people can further access the benefits of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic plans and thereby attain the potential of a truly blessed region”, the statement added.