Professor Godwin Sogolo has commended the Federal Government, saying the directive by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo that oil companies with operational base in the Niger Delta region should relocate their corporate headquarters to the region is a welcomed development.
The Emeritus Professor made the commendation in an interview with TheNewsGuru. He stress that if the oil companies heed the directive, it will help to ease the tension in the Niger Delta.
TheNewsGuru recalls Acting President Yemi Osinbajo gave the directive at a town hall meeting with stakeholders in Akwa Ibom on March 2 as part of efforts to mitigate tension in oil-bearing communities.
The directive categorically states that all oil companies with operational base in the Niger Delta should relocate their corporate headquarters to the Niger Delta region.
“We must focus on how to ensure that people see the benefits of the land’s wealth. This new vision will define the future of the region,” Professor Osinbajo said at the meeting in Uyo.
“It is a good thing” Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has directed oil companies with operational base in the Niger Delta to move their headquarters to the Niger Delta, said Sogolo.
“In fact, it was supposed to be like that at the beginning because the host communities where the oil companies operate need cleaning and development, and it is part of the companies’ social responsibility to be fully present in the areas.
“If they are not fully present in the areas, there is no way the oil firms will know about the challenges and difficulties the host communities face due to their activities.
“It is when they have their headquarters in the areas that they would be quite aware, and discharge their corporate responsibilities”.
Professor Sogolo made reference to a 1968 directive to major oil companies to relocate their operational head offices from the Niger Delta region to Lagos by the Yakubu Gowon military junta which had Chief Obafemi Awolowo as Commissioner (Minister) of Finance and Deputy Chairman of the Federal Executive Council.
He said “It is supposed to be like this since the 60s when oil exploitation started in the areas. Government is now doing the correct thing. I commend the government for giving the directive, and I hope that the oil companies will all comply with it”.
Professor Sogolo, however, cautioned federal government ensure the oil companies comply with the directive, and also see to it that the companies enforce their corporate social responsibilities when they finally move.
“The companies can relocate, and not do what they are supposed to do,” said Sogolo.
“Moving headquarters to the Niger Delta is a commendable step, and we have the hope that this is the beginning of more things to come,” he added.