Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
Niger Delta youths on TuesdayÂ protested over what they described as the continued refusal of international oil companies (IOCs) to relocate their corporate headquarters to areas of their operations in the region.
The youths under the aegis of Pan Niger Youth Leadership Forum (PANDYLF), said the action ofÂ multinational oil companies smacks of arrogance,Â regretting that their refusal to relocate was tantamount to disregard for the highest constituted authority, the presidency, which they said, had issued a relocation order.
According to PANDYLF, the presidential directive for the IOCs to relocate their headquarters was issued by the acting President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo,Â during his recent peace tour of the Niger Delta region.
The National President of PANDYLF, Mr. Famous Daunemigha, who addressed journalists in Abuja yesterday, expressed concern over the development,Â describing it as â€œunacceptable â€œ
While demanding the immediate relocation of the corporate headquarters of the companies to the region, the PANDYLF leader said: â€œEnough of this show of arrogance by oil producing companies. They canâ€™t continue to have their head offices located outside of where their operations are taking place. This is unacceptable to us the youths in the region.â€
The issue of youth restiveness in the region, he argued,Â should not be bandied as an excuse for the oil companiesâ€™ reluctance to relocate to the region, adding that theÂ issue of restiveness was something that just started in the region and would be nipped in the bud.
He promised that his group was prepared to create a conducive atmosphere for the IOCs â€˜relocation to the region, stressing that theÂ Â PANDYLF leadership was ready to embark on a vigorous campaign to sensitise the people of the Niger Delta region.
He said: â€œI think the most important thing that we need to address is, I want to still remind Nigerians that when the Vice President came to the Niger Delta, he didnâ€™t come in the capacity of the vice president; he came as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.â€
According to him, â€œHe was acting President and if the president has made pronouncement to the IOCs to relocate their headquarters, I think that pronouncement should be respected by the various operating companies in the Niger Delta.
â€œAnd even our constitution also made a provision that the oil companies should have their headquarters operating around the areas they are operating in and I think that is also very important,â€ he said.
He argued that the issue of insecurity was not peculiar to the region alone, adding:Â Â â€œI think even in Abuja, there are security issues; were there not bombings in Abuja? But now, there are no more bombings in Abuja. Even in Lagos State, there are kidnapping issues; so there is no place that is 100 per cent safe.
â€œNow, letâ€™s look at it critically; the oil companies cannot use that as an excuse. It is a flimsy excuse because first and foremost, it was addressed. When the area was peaceful. they didnâ€™t do the needful until the people took the laws into their hands and caused this insecurity that we are experiencing in the Niger Delta which is something that one shouldnâ€™t encourage.
â€œFirst and foremostÂ I expect the IOCs to say yes, we will come back but assure us that you will make your environment safe for us to operate. Then, the ball comes back to us.
â€œI will also support a peaceful environment for the IOCs to operate. But an order has been given; they should relocate and if the environment is not safe for them to operate, they will have a good reason. Then, it becomes our own problem; we caused them to relocate. But now, as far as I am concerned, there is no militancy in the Niger Delta,â€ he emphasised.
Daunemigha, who was a former deputy president of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), said the youths would not only support, but would provide the necessary support in the area of security for the oil multinationals relocating their headquarters to the region.