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President, Ijaw National Congress, Prof Benjamin Okaba

IOCs’ divestment: Ijaws demand cleanup of polluted sites; Want successor companies’ hqts in N/Delta

By Nathan Nwakamma

Yenagoa, Jan. 20, 2024

The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has demanded that International Oil Companies (IOCs) divesting their oil assets should clean up the polluted sites of their host communities before moving out of the Niger Delta.

The Congress made its position known in a communique issued after a one-day dialogue organised at its national headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, on Saturday.

In the communique read by its President, Prof Benjamin Okaba, INC further demanded that the local consortiums buying up the oil assets of the IOCs should move their corporate headquarters to the region.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the dialogue had as theme “The Imperative for Paradigm Shift”.

It insisted that the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was designed to deepen the underdevelopment of the oil producing areas.

It will be recalled that  Shell PLC UK on Monday announced that it had agreed to sell its Nigerian onshore oil assets to Renaissance, a consortium of four Nigerian companies and one foreign energy firm for 2.4 billion dollars.

Shell, which had been operating in Nigeria for over 60 years, announced its divestment plan in a statement by its London office.

It stated that with the deal, its onshore subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), would now be operated by ND Western, Aradel Energy, First E&P, Waltersmith and Petrolin, a Swiss company.

The INC noted that “very soon, Ijaw territories would become private estates of these local investors with international connections.

“The Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is anti-Ijaw in all ramifications. The NNPC has been privatised by the Federal Government, and the International Oil Companies (IOCs) are divesting their oil assets around Ijaw land with local consortiums buying up the shares.

“However, before the IOCs are allowed to pull out they should be made to clean-up the environmental mess they have created.

”The new investors should relocate their headquarters to Ijaw territories, where they have their oil facilities,” the group insisted.

It said the Ijaw people would set up a think-tank to examine every aspect of their existence and provide strategic templates for the collective growth and development of the Ijaw nation.

“In spite of contributing over 60 per cent to oil and gas production, which is the country’s main sources of economic survival, there are no major infrastructures across Ijaw land.

“For instance, the East-West Road that traverses Ijaw land is still deplorable and impassable, and several Ijaw communities remain inaccessible by road.

“Also, port facilities in Warri, Sapele, Port Harcourt, etc, that were hitherto economically viable are no longer in use. Proposed seaports at Agge and other towns in Ijaw territories are yet to exponentially impact the economic climate of Ijaw land.

“We also lack energy infrastructure and other drivers of social, economic and technological advancement.

“We are unhappy with lopsided political appointments at the federal level.

“We reject the deliberate balkanisation of Ijaw territories into minorities to deny us the socio-economic and political advantages that are associated with majority status. We are resolute on this,” the Congress stated.

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