While responding to demands, amongst others, to relocate to Akwa Ibom State the headquarters of multi-national oil companies where they have operational platform, acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo during Town Hall Meeting with Akwa Ibom stakeholders in Uyo yesterday, said that he has directed the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to engage the oil companies for the way forward.
The acting president, who commended the youths of the state for farsightedness in not engaging in vandalisation of pipelines and the destruction of national assets, said that he came to propose a new era for the people of the oil producing communities.
Prof. Osinbajo unfolded the federal government’s plans to make oil producing communities a hub of refining activities.
He said that besides Ibom Power Plant, power stations should also be stationed in Akwa Ibom State. Osinbajo also stated the federal government’s commitment to partner with Akwa Ibom State government in completing the Ibom Deep Seaport saying that there is provision for the said project in the 2017 Budget.
He underscored the importance of attracting private investment to the state as this forms part of sustainable development.
Acting President Osinbajo could not help heaping praises on Akwa Ibom people for putting aside political difference for the issue of common importance while calling on the people to give this administration time to deliver on its campaign promises as it is barely two years since this government came on board.
Speaking at the meeting, Governor Udom Emmanuel said that Akwa Ibom State has no single federal government signature project in the state despite sustaining the economy of the nation for over four decades.
Udom who on behalf of the people of the state prayed for quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari called for Federal Government support in the area of completion of MRO at the Ibom International Airport, assist the state in the establishment of coconut refinery, as well as involvement of the citizens in skill development to take charge of local content.
The state Chief executive regretted that citizens of the state do not have oil blocs and called for allocation of blocs to the people.
On his part, immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Goodwill Akpabio advocated for free and fair elections in 2019 while also calling on the federal government to allow Akwa Ibom being a PDP State, to hold onto power as all the States of the federation cannot belong to one Party.
Akpabio who is the Senate Minority Leader while speaking on behalf of elders, regretted that the State has not felt federal presence since the return to democracy despite being the largest producer of oil. While thanking the federal government for appointing indigenes of the State into the present administration, he however regretted that indigenes of Akwa Ibom State have not been employed into federal civil service, so as to reflect the federal character.
Akpabio called for the establishment of a military or security base at the border between Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers State to check the incessant boundary crisis that has resulted in loss of lives and property.
On his part, former military governor of the state and Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga called on the Federal Government to direct multi-national oil companies operating in the state to relocate their headquarters to the state.
Nkanga equally called for reactivation of Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria, AlSCON, located in Ikot Abasi and paper mill in Oku Iboku to generate employment for the youths.
Also speaking, the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Barr. Onofiok Luke asked for take-off grant for the University of Uyo noting that Akwa Ibom has been short-changed in the monthly quota despite the fact that the State contributes 40% to Nigeria economy.
On his part, a former Member of House of Representatives, Chief Ndueso Essien said that oil producing communities in the State are demanding that oil companies operating in the State should move their headquarters to the oil communities in the State.
“they are also demanding that over N30billion spent on the construction of the Eket-Ibeno road by the federal government be refunded by the federal government to the State for application in the development of the communities”.
He maintained that since 1979, the oil companies have kept deceiving the oil communities with series of excuses which were no longer tenable adding that with the airport, roads, communication services, housing and accommodation, the companies should relocate their headquarters.