SNEPCo’s Planned Relocation And N’Delta’s Interest

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Despite Rivers State Government’s spirited efforts and commitment to make the state safe and secure for sustainable investments, the relocation of the operational headquarters of some multi-national companies cannot in any way or manner be justified.
Besides, the flagrant disobedience of the presidential directive to the effect that all oil and gas firms operating in the Niger Delta region must site or relocate their headquarters to the region, as a deliberate policy of the Federal Government to accelerate development in the region, the move by some recalcitrant multi-national companies constitutes an outright defiance and insubordination to the highest authority in the land.
It is against this backdrop that The Tide wonders why the management of Shell Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), an off-shore drilling firm resolved to relocate its administrative headquarters from Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone in Rivers State to Lagos, already over-congested with port activities arising from Tin Can, Apapa and Lekki Ports.
Lamenting the phased relocation of SNEPCo, Comrade Philip John Tenwa, President of Onne Youth Council said if SNEPCo makes good its intention, over 6,000 youths would lose their jobs in addition to 10,000 already displaced directly or indirectly by the gradual relocation of other companies from Onne Port in the last five years.
While pleading to SNEPCo’s management to consider the unemployment rate in Rivers State, as its relocation would worsen the situation, thereby causing upsurge in crime and criminality in the society, Tenwa wondered why SNEPCo should move to Lagos that is already over-congested.
The Eleme youth boss who led over 1,000 youths on protest march said that Onne and Eleme people had co-existed peacefully and harmoniously with the company in the past 20 years and hence, SNEPCo’s relocation is unjustifiable and not in the interest of the state or region.
He appealed to the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government to prevail on the firm, to re-consider its relocation plan as such move would have far-reaching negative implications, not only on Onne, Eleme and Rivers people but also the entire Niger Delta region.
The Tide agrees no less with the sentiments expressed by Onne youths. We are, indeed, aware that SNEPCo and other companies at the Onne Port have peacefully and co-operatively co-existed with their host communities, hence, we are compelled to conclude that the planned relocation may not be divorced from some political undertones.
While we don’t want to believe that some disgruntled elements are bent on de-marketing the state, such unpatriotic people should bury their heads in shame.
The Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration has in the past three years done its best to make Rivers State an investors haven by providing the enabling environment for businesses to thrive and ensuring safety of lives and property.
The Tide, therefore, implores other companies itching to relocate from Rivers State to borrow a leaf from the management of Nigerian Liquified National Gas Company (NLNG) and others that moved its operational headquarters from Lagos to Port Harcourt due to the safe environment existing in the State.
It is, indeed, our candid opinion that the State government should invite SNEPCo’s management for a heart-to-heart dialogue with a view to dissuading the company from carrying out its plan in the interest of the state, its people and the Niger Delta region.
We also urge Onne and Eleme youths to continue with their peaceful disposition pending when the matter is resolved amicably.