Lagos — The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN has called on the federal government to empower states in the Niger Delta with necessary legislations that will enable them take charge of security issues in their domain.
The call was made by a statement by Comrade Peter Chukwudi Onita, PENGASSAN Port Harcourt Zonal Chairman on Monday.
Com. Onita, while sounding a note of warning over the rising insecurity in the zone, said the era of centralised policing should be done away with, adding that locals and communities should be allowed to own and operate arms-carrying personnel to protect the huge investments in the oil and gas sector.
“The Zone which harbours some major oil and gas producing states in the country such as Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Anambra, Enugu and Eboyi States are seriously under one form of security threats or the other, which the Association reckons is a bad call to any meaningful development, especially with the commencement of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery valued at $1.5billion.
“The Zone also accounts for a large chunk of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector representing about 85 per cent of government revenues. The total revenue flow to the Federation, other tiers of government and sub-national entities from all sources (including crude oil sales, taxes, royalties and other incomes) came to USD 32.6 billion 2018.
If not checked and curtailed, Onita said the degrading state of security in the Niger Delta may have a devastating effect on the socio-economic well-being of the Nation.
“As the Zone with the resources, we therefore warn that the current state of affairs in kidnapping for ransom, attacks on security agencies especially the Nigeria Police and the rise of militia and ragtag armies if allowed to persist may have dire consequences and threats to food and economic security as well as life of the citizens of not only the states under the Zone but to the entire Nation,” the statement read.
He also called on investors and management in the oil and gas industry to disregard the effects of COVID-19 pandemic in the sector and safely guide the workers in the industry against COVID-19 instigated redundancies, wage reduction and arbitrary dismissal.
According to him, the sector should rather encourage and focus on opening new frontiers that will harness the abundant natural gas resources in the zone, as well as the establishment of modular refineries and training facilities for the youth in the oil bearing communities as a way to fighting the rising waves criminalities and other social vices.