The Forum of South South Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (FSSCCIMA) has opposed the continuous hosting of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition (NOG) in Abuja, saying that the trend contradicts international standards.
The Coordinator of the forum, Mr. Billy Gilly-Harry, who spoke to newsmen in Port Harcourt, last week, called on the Federal Government to move the annual oil industry event to the South South geo-political zone as the epicentre of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
He said the choice of Abuja was wrong, and described it as an attempt to undermine the South South states, which remain the hub of oil and gas exploration and production in Nigeria.
Mr. Gilly-Harry, who is also the national vice president of Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NCCIMA), noted that all over the world, oil and gas conferences are not held in capital cities but at the oil hub of hosting countries.
He cited a clear instance of the United States of America, where Houston, Texas hosts the annual global oil industry technology show and exhibition, which draws participants from across the world, including Nigeria. The next edition of the event is expected in May.
“In Norway, the event is held in Stavenger, in the United Kingdom, it is held in Aberdeen,” he said.
“We, in the forum do not support the continuous hosting of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. There is no oil in Abuja. All over the world, oil industry annual events hold where oil is produced,” Gilly-Harry added.
The coordinator, therefore, called on the Federal Government to observe global trend and standard by moving Nigeria’s oil and gas conference and exhibition to Port Harcourt, the capital city of the South South or in the alternative, to any of the cities within the Niger Delta region.
Gilly-Harry disclosed that he had written to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua while in office, as well as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the major organizer of the NOG but regretted that no positive response has so far been received.
“This trend must be reversed, if we must as a nation, embrace the principles of justice and fair play,” he stated.
It would be noted that for the past decade of NOG, it has been organized by NNPC in collaboration with a London-based event management company, CWG Group Limited, headed by Dr Alirio Parra.
The forum further kicked against giving hosting right to a foreign company, adding that such arrangement also contradicts the idea of local content emphasized in the oil industry bill.
Gilly-Harry called on the leadership of Dr Goodluck Jonathan to look into the hosting right of CWG Group Limited, and the role of NNPC in the anomaly, and review the process.
The coordinator expressed worry that given the enormity of funds that enters the treasury of international oil companies (IOCs), the industry operators can comfortably bring out funds to organize the event, and save the country millions of pound sterling spent on the event management.