Mkpoikana Udoma 11 January 2017, Port Harcourt – In a bid to enhance development for oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta region, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has charged the Federal Government to relocate the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, from Port Harcourt to Oloibiri in Bayelsa State.
Oloibiri is the place where crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria by Shell D’Arcy in 1956. Oloibiri oilfield is the first commercial oil field in West Africa.
Chairman of PENGASSAN, Port Harcourt zone, Mr. Azubuike M. Azubuike, who made the call, wondered why the headquarters of the NDDC is located in Port Harcourt whereas the commission was created as an interventionist agency to develop oil and gas producing communities in the Niger Delta region, which is the base of the country’s wealth.
Azubuike said the only way to achieve lasting peace in the Niger Delta region is to bring development and create employment for the people.
The labour leader also urged the government not to play politics with the development of the Niger Delta region, which he described as the goose that bears the golden eggs.
“What is NDDC headquarters doing in Port Harcourt? NDDC headquarters should be in Oloibiri because if it gets to Oloibiri, the government can have a way of developing that area.
“Oloibiri is the birthplace of oil in Nigeria, but today, the place is an eyesore. The place is under-developed, poverty is written on the village with nothing to show that it was the place where Nigeria’s oil breakthrough started,” Azubuike said.
He continued: “Now what is the essence of establishing NDDC? Was it not to assuage this oil producing communities? So NDDC should be situated in Oloibiri because by so doing politicians will not sit in Port Harcourt and tell you about “ghost” projects. Oloibiri should be made a safe haven so that every other oil producing communities in the region can benefit.
“When people are gainfully employed, they will not have time for illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, militancy and other criminalities but because people are idle due to unemployment, so other people are using them to make money. The government need to bring employment and development to the oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta region. Even someone that wants to commit suicide, if given a better life, will not want to commit that suicide.”
Azubuike said the demands by militants in the region were not far-fetched because the people of the region feel neglected and marginalised by governments.