As part of the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s consultations with stakeholders in the Niger Delta, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in Akwa Ibom State and, in keeping with what this newspaper has consistently advocated for years, ordered all major oil companies to relocate their headquarters to the neglected region.
This is a good development, after such a long time of its desirability. It is, therefore, a policy directive that should be carried out with utmost vigour, sincerity and a sense of urgency. Peace in the Niger Delta is synonymous with peace and security in the country and an execution of this directive will be one major step towards an enabling environment for Nigeria’s greater prosperity.
Soon after the discovery of oil in Oloibiri in 1958, the Niger Delta became host to major oil prospecting firms. Through the years, whereas exploration and extraction were carried out in the interior of the region, the major oil firms maintained their headquarters in Lagos and Abuja.
The effect was that these multinationals became insensitive to the ecological and human disaster that exploration created for the oil-bearing communities. To make matters worse, even their middle level workers insultingly hopped in and out of the region indicating that management and middle level staff had no obligations whatsoever to the communities. It did not take long before the people of the region became restive. The many years of neglect had taken its toll and the people thought enough was enough. Given this insensitivity of the oil companies and the neglect of the people by the Nigerian state, the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta was inevitable. And it has been relentlessly violent.