Nigeria: Wike Sees Key Appointments As Panacea For Niger Delta’s Unease

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Nigeria: Wike Sees Key Appointments As Panacea For Niger Delta’s Unease
Akanimo Sampson

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, one of the big oil and gas states in Southern Nigeria controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is currently pressing for a new approach at taming the frequent unease in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s honey comb.

For the governor who is locked in a reelection battle with the All Progressives Congress (APC) galvanized by former governor and Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, transnational corporations operating in the oil and gas region, should as a matter of policy, encourage their host communities with key appointments.

Wike who was speaking in Port Harcourt, the state capital, when the Management of Nigerian Bottling Company called on him, said local content participation was key to harmony and sustained development.

There has been a resurgence of militancy in the region nine years after the late President Umaru Yar’Adua declared amnesty to the armed rebels. Analysts have been seeing the development as a response to the government’s lack of sincerity in resolving the deep socio-economic and environmental challenges of the oil region.

The new wave of armed rebellion has been worrisome as the region frequently cycled back to the old days of violence and insecurity characterised by abductions and vandalism of oil and gas pipelines.

Those who know better say conflict in the Niger Delta has been adversely affecting the country’s economy at a time when the price of crude oil has plummeted and there are calls for diversification of the economy. Insecurity there is said to be compounding the already tense and insecure political climate in Nigeria and heightened by Abuja’s love of the security approach.

Sadly, the authorities are yet to realise that the use of force is not a solution for problems such as those of the Niger Delta and therefore a multilateral non-violent approach has been recommended. A cooperative approach to resource conflict management is not only necessary for avoiding conflict and addressing social and environmental crises, but it will also salvage significant financial resources and foster goodwill among parties to the dispute.

Since 1956, 62 years precisely, when oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Oloibiri, a largely forgotten rustic Ijaw community in Bayelsa State, hydrocarbon resources have been the engines for Nigeria’s economy, as oil provides 95% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and 80% of the government’s budgetary revenues.

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says the country’s oil production accounts for 8.00% of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) total daily production and 3.00% of the world’s volume.

But, the discovery of oil, which was expected to improve the lot of the communities where it is sourced, has become a curse rather than a blessing because of oil exploration activities and its attendant hazards, such as air and water pollution.

This has compelled the indigenous people to be demanding compensation as well as control of the oil wealth. This demand, has led to a confrontation between armed youths and the big oil operating in the region as well as Abuja.

Historically, the struggle started as a peaceful protest and later metamorphosed into armed conflict after the killing of a renowned Ogoni activist and playwright, Ken Sara-Wiwa and eight other of his kinsmen. After the murder of Saro-Wiwa, the new wave of protests in the oil region included the abduction of oil workers, bombing of oil installations and destruction of lives and property.

Apparently worried, Governor Wike is urging corporations to encourage the peoples of the region through local content participation. According to him, ‘’part of the crisis in the Niger Delta is that some companies relegate the people of the area in allocation of management positions’’.

He wants what he described as ‘’the ugly situation’’ to be checked in a frantic bid to avoid conflicts, and expressed happiness that Nigerian Bottling Company is expanding her operations in his state.

‘’This expansion will create more employment and internally generated revenue. This state is peaceful for investments’’, Governor Wike said, pointing out that the documents for the land acquired by the bottling company for their expansion will be granted by his administration.

Chairman of the board of directors of the bottling company, Segun Apata, said the company was working towards building a mega plant in Port Harcourt. The new plant according to him, will be a hub for the region with new jobs added across the board.

Apata said the plant covers 28,000 square metres, and accordingly appealed to the governor to give his consent for the acquired land. ‘’We want to double our production to 75 million unit cases’’, the bottling company chair said.

This post was written by Akanimo Sampson.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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