Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, yesterday, warned the Federal Government to address all issues provoking agitations in the Niger Delta to ensure uninterrupted oil production. Omo-Agege gave the warning while making his contributions to the ongoing debate on the general principles of the 2021 Appropriation Bill.
He expressed concerns that the region that was producing the larger chunk of the nation’s revenue was being neglected in areas of infrastructural development and job creation, lamenting that roads linking states in the region were in deplorable conditions.
The lawmaker also urged the oil companies operating in Niger Delta to relocate their operational headquarters to the region and also provide employment for the youth of the area as a way of guaranteeing peace. He also frowned at a situation where oil from Niger Delta was being treated a commonwealth while Zamfara State Government was selling the gold mineral to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as the state’s wealth.
His words: “Like I indicated in the debate for the 2020 budget, for us to be able to achieve this 1.86mbpd, certain things must be in place. We must maintain the peace in the Niger Delta region before we can achieve this. Mr. President, when I say this, it begins to sound like a broken record.
“Every day, for those of us who represent the Niger Delta, we hardly sleep. We are very worried of every concern because these are the people, the golden eggs that take care of this economy. But Mr. President, they are jobless. There is nothing for them to do. It is very important that the youth of these communities are engaged.
“The only way to engage these youths is for the oil companies to have their business operations headquarters located within the Niger Delta. “In the absence of this, you will have all the youth participating in this agitation against SARS.
The only reason they are in the streets is because there are no jobs to engage them. Once again, I want to appeal that the oil companies doing businesses in this country should relocate their headquarters to the region.
“Having said that, I also want to touch on something else. In the absence oil companies operating within the states, the infrastructure in the region is in a serious state of decay. “As we speak right now, major roads connecting Delta State to Edo State has been cut in half. A journey that normally takes about 40 minutes from Warri to Benin, now takes about six hours. How do we explain this? “We can probably explain this that we have failed the people. Six hours for a journey of 40 minutes? I have spoken to the Minister of Works and he laid the blame at the feet of the National Assembly; that because of the budgetary process we have now adopted, that there is no more room for contingency provisions in the budget. “We may understand that here, but the people in the streets in Delta, Edo and in each of those Niger Delta states, they don’t understand that.
So, it is bad enough that the economy is in a state it is right now, we also need to, at least, maintain the little infrastructure we have. “Finally, Mr. President, not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5 billion. The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN. “Mr. President, our people are beginning to wonder who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN.
They don’t sell oil in any of the Niger Delta states. I am wondering why a governor of a state should be selling gold bar from Zamfara to the CBN. “There are two problems with that. We believe that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transaction belongs to the entire country and not belonging to the state government. That is number one and we should actually look into that. “That is an area we really need to develop.
There is a lot of revenue that could come from there that will take the burden from these international borrowings. On this note I will like to say that I support the passage of this budget.”