Okowa Solicits EU Support to Relocate Oil Firms to N’Delta

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Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has reiterated the importance of getting multinational oil companies to relocate their headquarters or main offices to their areas of exploration and exploitation in the country as he solicited the assistance of the European Union towards such move.

Okowa noted that such relocation by the oil multinationals would be of immense benefit to the host communities, the oil companies, the respective state governments as well as enhancing Nigeria’s peace and security situation.

The governor made the assertion while playing host to the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Michael Arrion, who paid him a courtesy call yesterday in Asaba, the state capital.

Specifically, he noted that locating headquarters of oil companies within their host communities would not only boost relationship between the companies and their host communities but would also “ensure that the host states are no longer shortchanged” in terms of appropriate revenue accrual to the states.

According to the governor, “Most of the multinational oil companies do shortchange us as a people and as a state. They operate in this state but their head office and their management staff are outside the state.

“There is the need for them to relocate to where they have their operations. If all their operations are in the state, it is comfortable for our people and enables true partnership between the oil company, government and the people, especially when you domicile in the area where you make your money.”

Okowa, therefore, appealed to the EU envoy to prevail on multinational oil companies regarding the need to locate their headquarters in their areas of operations, which are mainly in the Niger Delta region.

“We hope they will listen to the voice of reasoning and relocate to areas where they have their operations,” the governor said, even as he sought the assistance of the EU in encouraging the teeming population of unemployed Nigerian youths to be national assets through positive engagement, rather than constitute themselves into societal burden.

He reiterated his belief in encouraging youths towards acquisition of valuable skills or engaging them in the agro-value chain, saying his administration empowerment programmes have recorded remarkable successes in skill acquisition for youths and the empowerment of the youths through agriculture schemes.

The governor said: “We have willing youths who are ready to partner the EU in the development of the agro-value chain. And, despite the financial challenges, my administration has revived technical education in the state and we have continued to provide basic social amenities for the people.”

He said the state government was ready to partner the EU as well as individuals and corporate organisations willing do business in the state, and commended the stabilising roles the EU was playing in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.

Earlier, the EU ambassador said he was on working visit to the state, adding that the EU has enjoyed fruitful partnership with Nigeria, including Delta State, in the 40 years the organisation has been in the country.

Arrio said the EU was interested in assisting the country to tackle terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal migration and to ensure that EU member-states invested more in Nigeria.

“We see Nigeria as a market to invest much more in,” he noted, adding that “we believe that the European investments can lead to the diversification of the country’s economy.”
In another development, Okowa has commended the cordial relationship between the National Assembly and the different state Houses of Assembly.

The governor, who made the commendation yesterday when the chairman and members of the National Assembly Service Commission paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House Asaba, stressed that his administration was committed to capacity building of its workforce “geared towards growing a productive civil and public service.

“This synergy between the National Assembly Commission and the respective state assembly commissions is very important because the legislature needs to grow and, in growing, they need to share ideas at both levels,” Okowa remarked.

Earlier, in a brief address, Chairman, National Assembly Service Commission, Dr. Paul Oweh, informed the governor that they were on a working visit to the state House of Assembly Service Commission to interact and share ideas and help strengthen the synergy existing between them for better service delivery.