By Ebi Perekeme
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has insisted that the Niger Delta region remains a safe haven for companies to conduct their businesses.
This is coming even as he fingers multinational companies for using insecurity to justify their refusal to relocate their operational headquarters to the region.
Wike made this known during a courtesy visit by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipri Sylva, and the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the state Government House in Port Harcourt.
The governor wondered why insecurity did not prevent the drilling of oil but could be used to deprive the State what is due to it.
According to him, “They use insecurity issues to place us in a disadvantaged position and deny us our right.
“There is insecurity in Lagos, Kaduna and Katsina States. Yet, companies do not run away from those States. The railway projects are not stalled too.
“The multinationals are sometimes to blame because they instigate insecurity by paying militants and turn around to blame it on the people.
“There is no excuse to operate outside our State. The Federal Government should compel them to relocate their headquarters to the State as the hub of the hydrocarbon industry.”
The governor noted that the NNPC has not done anything substantial for the State after many years of operation.
“The Port Harcourt Refinery has continued to operate below-installed capacity. Even the access road has been in a poor state for years.
“I urge you as minister and members of the board of directors to dualise the three kilometres road and change the narrative”, he stated.
Governor Wike noted the patriotism Sylva has demonstrated by attracting federal projects to his State and urged other ministers to emulate him.
He said even if the minister is of the opposition party in Bayelsa State, his sense of patriotism has made him to place the interest of the State above partisan interests.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Sylva, had told the governor that plans have reached an advanced stage to rehabilitate the existing refineries in the country.
He said the Federal Government decided to start the rehabilitation programme from the two refineries in Port Harcourt because the State is the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry.
The minister announced that a third refinery would be built to bring the number of refineries in the State to three.
Sylva commended Governor Wike for being persistent in his quest to get the refinery road dualized and promised that the ministry would support the move.
In a related development, Governor Wike has urged companies operating in the State to build strategic partnership with government to promote rapid development.
He said such partnerships would make business activities to thrive in the interest of the organisations and Rivers people.
Governor Wike gave the charge when the Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited, Ahmed Dikko, led the management team of the company on a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor noted that there were many areas of mutual interests that could be explored in a state that is the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry.
He enjoined the company to rehabilitate the access road leading to their operational base.
He announced that the government had paid 40 per cent mobilization fee to the contractor handling the Woji-Aleto-Alesa-Refinery road project.
The governor also berated the company for not supporting the State Government in its fight against coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the company, Dikko, said their visit was to inform the government about the strategic actions taken by the management to revitalise the Port Harcourt Refining Company.