By Godwin Utuedoye,
Oil and Gas Producing Communities in Delta State have been urged to ensure therr is an enabling environment for Oil and Gas investment in the state to thrive.
The Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mr. Mofe Pirah, made the call during a one-day Communities Engagement Meeting with Oil and Gas Producing Communities in Delta Central Senatorial District held in Sapele.
Mr Pirah while addressing participants drawn from communities in Delta Central Senatorial District said, “Community Engagement will not only fast track the needed infrastructural and human capital development in the host communities but will also create a peaceful environment where oil companies can thrive for the general good of all.”
The Commissioner stated that Community Engagement was a catalyst to strengthening Stakeholders’ relationship, particularly in oil and gas producing communities, saying it create an enabling environment for “top bottom and bottom top” principle in approaching and addressing thorny issues that could cause disharmony between Oil and Gas Companies and their host communities.
He stated that peace and security was sin qua non to the development process in the oil and gas industry, saying that over the years the “Delta State Government had committed enormous human and financial resources to the resolution of conflicts between oil companies and their host communities, also in intra and inter community conflict.”
He called on oil producing communities to desist from interrupting operations of the Oil & Gas Companies which more often than not lead to declaration of force majeure, access roads to plants and offices blocked which in the final analysis lead to loss of lives, properties and revenue to the State Government.
He enjoined Oil Producing Communities not to rush into any agreement with Oil Companies but should at all times appoint men of integrity to speak on their behalf, even as he advised them to always carry the State Government along in any discussion with Oil Companies.
In his address, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Peter Mrakpor represented by the Director of Peoples’ Right, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Patricia Omatsone, said, “Peace is a precursor of development and the absence of peace means that no meaningful development can take place, saying, “The extent of the youth’s responsible conducts and roles in society is positively co-related with the development of their community.”
Barr. Mrakpor, who hinged his address on the role of information in curbing youth restiveness and criminality in order to engender investment and industrialization in the Oil and Gas bearing Communities in Delta State said, “Information is a change agent, a reinforcement of ideas and opinion, hence it is the responsibility of leaders to ensure that youths have access to information that will guide their actions.
“Youth must be economically empowered through access to business and economic, entrepreneurial information which will make them inaccessible to those who want to recruit them for antisocial actions.”
He recommended that to curb youth restiveness, it was important to enlighten the youths and other members of the society by presenting them with factual information that would guide their actions and help them make good conclusions that would promote peace, saying this would reduce the amount of youth violence, acrimony and confrontation which would in turn enhance development in the community and the State at large.
The theme of the Community Engagement meeting, “Curbing Youth Restiveness and Criminality in Order to Engender Investment and Infrastructural Development in the Oil & Gas Bearing Communities in Delta State” saw two erudite scholars delivered lecture on the topic “Crude Oil Theft, Illegal Bunkering: Impact On The Economy, Health, Security And Environment and Environmental Peace & Prosperity In The Niger Delta: Efficacy Of Non Violence As A Strategy for Agitation.
Delivering his lecture on, Crude Oil Theft, Illegal Bunkering: Impact on the Economy, Health, Security and Environment, Prof. (Engr) A. Rim-Rukeh, of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, stated that most environmental degradation suffered by the Niger Delta people was the work of illegal oil bunkers who illegally siphon crude oil from pipeline and leave them to pour away without recourse to the effect of such on the community.
He concluded his lecture by asking, “If you have made all the money through illegal oil bunkering which destroys the environment – the fish, the water and the air – what would you use your money to buy? So let us protect our environment.”
On his part, Dr. Stephen Faleti of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan, who spoke on, Environmental Peace & Prosperity In The Niger Delta: Efficacy Of Non Violence As A Strategy for Agitation, stated that the use of non violence yield better result in agitation than when violence was applied.
Speaking, the Monarchs of Mosogah, HRM Samson Omene and the Ovie of Oghara represented by Chief Isaac Udju, thanked the Delta State Government for organizing the Communities Engagement meeting with Oil and Gas Producing Communities. He however appealed to Oil Companies to always honour their agreement with host communities to avoid conflict especially in the area of employment.
Present at the meeting were the representatives of Oil and Gas Companies, community chiefs, President Generals of the various communities in Delta Central Senatorial District, Local Government Chairmen representatives, market women leaders among others.