By Tobouke Jemine
The recent announcement touching the relocation of the corporate headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos, despite contrary views, is a fair and just development. The agency stated that the move is to stop “waste of resources and rip-off on the public purse.”
I also agree with the fact that Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport has been the busiest airport in Nigeria for international and domestic travellers and that Lagos State has been the hub of commercial activities in the country, hence it is strategic and beneficial to have the agency responsible for managing airports in the country quartered in Lagos State.
But my concern here is for the Presidency, the ministry dealing with Niger Delta Affairs and related agencies to emulate what the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development has done by directing oil companies operating across the lands and waters of the Niger Delta to relocate and have their corporate headquarters sited near the oil-producing communities in the oil hub of West Africa.
If the development and prosperity of the oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta is a priority to the Nigerian government and the oil companies, there should not be any reason to ignore this fair demand. A land and water that has been good enough to enrich the coffers of these oil companies with its natural capital cannot be bad enough to host their head offices, except they are parasitic companies — which of course, they are, and for over five decades.It is time we rewrite that story.
But oil companies apart, it is aggravating to see that even governmental agencies that are established to address the problems and challenges of oil producing habitations are quartered in distant lands, far away from their mandate areas. What is wrong with having the headquarters of DESOPADEC in Warri instead of Asaba?
What is wrong if we site the head office of OSOPADEC in Arogbo-land or Ilaje-land instead of Akure? What is wrong with these oil producing portions of the Nigerian earth that they don’t want to associate them with things that will bring massive development to them? Why?
If the oil companies can be directed, persuaded or compelled to erect their sky-kissing towers near the underdeveloped state of the ‘black-golded’ Coastal Nigerdelta, maybe they will begin to justify or empathize with the reasons we embarked on mechanical agitation; may that road and coastal highway we need to connect our hamlets, villages, towns and kingdoms and run and improve our local economy will come to manifestation; maybe the Niger Delta grid we need to brighten the darkness of the night and light up our local factories will come to pass; maybe those our communities that are suffering from the wrath of Atlantic waves will be fenced up; maybe the poverty of social amenities in coastal Niger Delta will become a thing of the past; maybe joblessness will lost its grip on our society and skill acquisition centres will be built to equip and empower the youths and women, and maybe many other positive possibilities will become our reality.
So let us make this demand of our government and the multinationals.
Let the Federal Government do for the Niger Delta what it did for Lagos State with FAAN– direct oil companies to register their concrete-corporate presence in the Niger Delta region; and with a hope for a better future, we will give the Government 4 in a scale of 1 to 10.