The Leadership of the umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, has drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the grave consequences that will be incurred if the move to relocate the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) from Lagos to Abuja is implemented.
The IYC spoke through its President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, in a statement issued to DAILY POST via email on Wednesday.
The statement said to avoid unimaginable restiveness in the region, the Federal Government should instead transfer the headquarters of the department to any of the cities in the region especially the South-South.
Igbifa, advised the Federal Government to exercise caution when making sensitive decisions to avoid heating the polity, creating divisive tendencies and causing avoidable violent agitations among the citizens.
He further mentioned that it smacked of insincerity for the government, which earlier directed all oil multinationals to move their headquarters to the Niger Delta, to be making plans to relocate the head office of the DPR, a major regulatory federal parastatal in the oil sector, to Abuja.
Igbifa said the latest directive explained the reason why the government developed cold feet and failed to enforce its earlier pronouncement directing oil companies to move their head offices to the Niger Delta region.
He explained that the independent role ascribed to the DPR in the new Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB) was the only reason why the government was making efforts to relocate the head office of the department.
He also said such relocation was being designed to give the northerners unfettered access and undue advantage to the activities of the department at the expense of the Niger Delta region where the DPR derived its reason for existence.
He said: “We have it on good authority that envisaging the autonomous roles the DPR will play in the oil sector whenever the PIB becomes law, the Federal Government is planning to move the headquarters of the department from Lagos to Abuja.
“This idea is nepotic, insensitive and designed to give northerners unfair advantage to all the benefits that DPR will bring to the table when it eventually acquires independence from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as stipulated in the PIB.
“It is crystal clear that the Federal Government has always paid lip service to the development of the Niger Delta region. In one breath the government asked oil companies to relocate their headquarters to the region, in another breath this same government is planning to move the DPR head office from Lagos to Abuja instead of relocating it to the Niger Delta region.
“We condemn this move and warn that this development will threaten the peace in the Niger Delta region, which gives DPR and other oil multinationals reasons for existence. The Niger Delta will not fold its hands and watch this happen.
“This is an opportunity for the federal government to lead by example by first relocating the headquarters of the DPR to any of the cities in the Niger Delta region. This will show the government’s seriousness and commitment and enable other oil companies do the same.
“Anything contrary to this is unacceptable and will be resisted by all the Niger Delta stakeholders. It is high the Federal Government walked its talk. What is due to the Niger Delta must be given to us to create equity and fairness. The government should stop running this country with a body language that one section is greater than others”.