By DAPO FALADE
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has called on International Oil Companies (IOCs) to relocate their operational headquarters to the state, assuring that the Niger Delta Region is safe for companies to conduct their businesses.
He spoke during a courtesy visit by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Slyva and the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor, in a statement on Sunday by the state Commissioner for Information, Paulinus Nsirim, therefore dismissed the excuse of insecurity used by multinational companies to justify their refusal to relocate their operational headquarters to the region.
He wondered why insecurity does not prevent the drilling of oil but could be used to deprive the state what is due to it, adding: “They use insecurity issues to place us in a disadvantaged position and deny us our right.
“There is insecurity in Lagos, Kaduna and Katsina states. Yet, companies do not run away from those States. The railway projects are not stalled too.
“The multinationals are sometimes to blame because they instigate insecurity by paying militants and turn around to blame it on the people.
“There is no excuse to operate outside our state. The Federal Government should compel them to relocate their headquarters to the state as the hub of the hydrocarbon industry.”
Governor Wike also accused the NNPC of having not done anything substantial for the state after many years of operation.
“The Port Harcourt Refinery has continued to operate below installed capacity. Even the access road has been in a poor state for years. I urge you as minister and members of the board of directors to dualise the three-kilometre road and change the narrative,” he said.
He however commended the sense of patriotism demonstrated by the Minister of State (Petroleum), Chief Sylva by attracting federal projects to his state [Bayelsa] and urged other ministers to emulate him.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources had told the governor that plans have reached an advanced stage to rehabilitate the existing refineries across the country.
According to him, the Federal Government decided to start the rehabilitation programme from the two refineries in Port Harcourt because Rivers State is the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry.
Sylva announced that a third refinery would be built to bring the number of refineries in the state to three, just as he commended Governor Wike for being persistent in his quest to get the Refinery Road dualized and promised that the ministry would support the move.