By Daniel Jones
President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Barrister Pereotubo Oweilaemi, yesterday disagreed that in few years’ time the Niger Delta
region will no longer be attractive for business investors.
The Ijaw group who was reacting to a statement in Benin City, Edo State, said the assertion credited to Mr Igo Weli, the General Manager External Relations of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), is disturbing.
Oweilaemi, however said the IYC is ready to engage the SPDC General Manager to explore some of the reasons for his assertion aimed at
tackling such factors.
“In a recent interview you highlighted some fundamental reasons why the Niger Delta region is no longer attractive to investors.
“Some might consider your position to be a provocation considering the past history of SPDC in the Niger Delta.
“We on the contrary would like to engage with you to comprehensively analyse, discuss and explore some of the reasons you mentioned in
order to collectively find ways of mitigating that,” Oweilaemi stated.
Going further, he asserted: “We recognize that we are responsible for some of the decisions and actions that led to the current investment
climate in the region. Furthermore, we also recognize that we must look inwards and search for solutions internally on how to create a
more secure and conducive environment that would attract businesses and investors to the region.
“Only an objective and honest appraisal of the current business environment, socio-cultural economic dynamics and the leadership
challenges would enable us to arrive at holistic solutions on the way forward.
“It is accepted that there have been mutual distrust and lack of confidence between the oil majors and community folks in the Niger Delta, which has led to violent agitations and conflict in the past Moving forward, there is need for a holistic restructuring and re-positioning of the region in a very competitive business environment.
“We accept that the status quo cannot be maintained. Our vision is for a Niger Delta that is ready for business and attractive to investors, and would do the needful to actualize that dream.”
On the role of stakeholders in mitigating the crisis, he said: “We also agree that the approach must be collective. The oil majors and other intervention agencies, such as the Amnesty programme, the NDDC and the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry must find some synergy with the States and LGAs to avoid duplication of projects, but equally ensure transparency and accountability in how projects are managed and executed. We must all learn lessons from the past.
“There is a need for us to create a platform that would encourage discussions on finding the right solutions on the way forward, improving communications between the different stakeholders and looking for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve matters in case of conflict.
“We are available to engage with you and other like-minded and concerned indigence of the Niger Delta.”