Bayelsa State Government has appealed to the Federal Government to prevail on the international oil companies (IOCs) to relocate to the state without any further delay.
Governor Douye Diri made the appeal on Thursday, at the 2nd Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Research and Development Fair and Conference in Yenagoa.
The Governor, who was represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, described the refusal of the IOCs to establish their corporate offices in the state and the Niger Delta region, where they carry out their operations as great disservice and injustice.
He said the people of oil producing states feel shortchanged that the companies deprive them of their benefits by paying taxes to states where they have their headquarters.
The Governor expressed displeasure that over three years after the Vice President of the Country, Prof Yemi Osinbajo promised to make good the relocation IOCs to their major areas of operations, nothing had happened in that regard.
According to the Bayelsa Chief Executive, the IOCs have no reason whatsoever not to relocate to the state considering the prevailing enabling environment in terms of security and improved means of transportation following the commencement of flight operations at the Bayelsa Airport.
On the Petroleum Industry Act, Governor Diri, however, noted that although the three percent awarded to the host communities was better than none, there was need for government to quickly address the complaints of the people.
Commenting on the theme of the conference, “Creating Sustainable Collaboration in Research and Development for the Energy Industry and its Linkage Sector”, he commended the NCDMB leadership for taking steps to promote the use of research and development in the country.
Governor Diri, who also thanked the Agency for signing a power purchase agreement to improve electricity supply in Bayelsa, expressed his administration’s readiness to collaborate with the Local Content Board and other corporate entities to drive development in the state.
His words, “Bayelsa State Government still feel very shortchanged in terms of what we are getting from the oil and gas industry despite the efforts we are making to ensure peace and tranquility in the industry.
“Thank God, you are in Yenagoa and you can all attest to how peaceful the place is. The staff working in Local Content have been on ground here and nothing untoward has happened to any of them.
“We believe that the relocation of the IOCs to Bayelsa State should not be further delayed. This is a pronouncement by the Vice President of our Country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo some 3 or 4 months ago. So we believe the time for its manifestation has become very necessary.
“We strongly feel it is unfair for the IOCs to carry out their operations in Bayelsa, yet the PAYE income tax is collected in Lagos. That is a case of somebody eating the beans and asking another person to have diarrhea”.
Declaring the conference open, the Minister for State, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said about $15 (USD) million had been earmarked as funding support to research centres and commercialization in the oil and gas industry.
Chief Sylva, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Nasil Sani, used the occasion to unveil the 10-year strategic roadmap on research and development, and also inaugurated the seven-member council of the NCDMB Technological Research and Incubation Centre.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engineer Simbi Wabote, noted that the Board was taking the bold initiative to promote research and development in appreciation of its capacity to enhance economic development.
He said the NCDMB’s activities and programmes, including the research and development initiative were all being guided by the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Contend Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010.