Speaks on dead fishes in coastal Communties
Reveals plans by the Delta State Government to build a modular refinery
Advocates for a proper and better GMoU and MoU’s
By Binebai Princewill
Prince Hon. Emmanuel Amgbaduba is the commissioner for Oil and Gas, Delta State, immediate past Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta South, he is a well known face in the Delta State politics and beyond.
Prince Emmanuel is a man that is doing his best in the transformation and rebranding of the Oil and Gas Industry in Delta State, thereby boosting the Delta State internal generated revenue (IGR).
He had continued to resolve perceived misunderstandings between host communities and multinational oil companies in the state by working hard to ensure a peaceful atmosphere at all times.
In this exclusive interview with The Liberator Newspaper, Amgbaduba speaks on the need for Deltans, particularly host communities and the multinational oil companies in the state to continue to exhibit a peaceful atmosphere devoid of crisis.
The commissioner also speaks on plans of the Delta State Government headed by Governor Okowa on the move to build a modular refinery which will in return create employment opportunities for Deltans and a call for IOCs to return back to Delta State as the Government is ready to embrace them by creating the needed peaceful atmosphere. He also talks about the need for a working GMoU and MoUs.
Can We Know You Sir?
My name is Prince Emmanuel Amgbaduba, Honourable commissioner for Oil and Gas, Delta State.
Sir you talked about peaceful coexistence between host communities and the multinational oil companies in Delta State, what do you have to say about that ?
Well, our ministry is saddled with the responsibility of making sure that there is a conducive atmosphere for oil firms, oil and gas companies to strive that when making profit they should have total regards for the norms and values of the various communities where they work, thereby ensuring that the peaceful coexistence between the host communities is sustained, I will like to give an example. Warri South West is a combination of Ijaw and Itsekiri, in it, you will find mineral resources in the Ijaw side of the local government same thing with the Itsekiri side of the local government, i want to appeal that the peaceful coexistence/the relationship of the two ethnic nationalities has made the oil companies to strive thus far. I am appealing that this relationship should be sustained in all parts of the state.
For quite sometime now, we see that host communities frequently agitate that oil companies ooperating in their areas are not living up to expectations and that it is another way of colonialism, what is your take on it?
I like that phrase, another way of colonisation, more or less, the oil companies are still seeing themselves as native imperialist, i beg to differ, for me and my perception, should we have a proper MOU OR GMOU, and if both sides hold on to their roles / responsibilities we will find some relative peace and less agitations,the whole thing comes from the idea of signing the GMOU, not releasing the GMOU funds as of when due, project funds not released and the right of first refusal not been given to the locals.
By so doing, first, they are creating room for strife and disturbance, so it is appropriate for oil companies if they are in GMOU they should hold on to it. I like siting examples when I speak, Egbema/Gbaramatu Communities Development Foundation (EGCDF), we are not into giving award, otherwise, I would have given them award same thing with the Itsekiri Regional Development Council (IRDC) , they’ve been able to display a better understanding of GMOU/MOI, they carry out their negotiations properly, disagree to agree then come to an agreement, put their agreements on paper and both side signed, last year I went to commission some projects in the riverine area, it tells you that funds are distributed or released by oil companies, in the case of Chevron was properly utilised, the issues of youth restiveness was minimised so for us in DELTA STATE, MOU AND GMOU is the only way to go ,we want to encourage people to key into it as a way of reducing agitations by host communities not forgetting employment opportunities, when I say the right to first refusal it cut across all boards which includes logistics supports, security contracts, security and surveillance, supplies, employement opportunities and all that, the right of first refusal should be given to the locals first .
What is your ministry doing about the call for International Oil Companies to return back to Delta State?
Yes, the ministry of oil and gas while creating a conducive atmosphere for oil companies to operate, we want to call on potential investors to come back to DELTA STATE to operate, the atmosphere is very conducive for any business to strive as the oil and gas industry is opened for business ,come and invest, recently, the DELTA STATE Government in collaboration with a dependable partner had an approval from exco to build a modular refinery in the NDUKWA axis and you can tell that when that modern refinery comes online, it will generate employment for the locals, it supposed to produce 10,000 barrel’s per day, production capacity with potentials for expansion when that comes on stream , employment opportunities will be there, the dominant effect of such opportunities,the ones cooking,the ones supplying what to cook ,the ones transporting, it will engage our youths to generate taxes for our state with which our road master can use in further developments, corporate taxes as well and will definitely boost up the IGR for our State.
We want to encourage people who are interested in building flow stations to please come, we are ready to support you , refineries and gas base industries. At this point or moment, we have something called waste to wealth, instead of flaring your gas ,you can capture it recycle it and domesticate it for use in the various households, it will also create employment,it will create a green house, lowers emission within our atmosphere while generating income for us hence we call it waste to wealth. We are encouraging every investor to come in and we are willing to welcome them with open hands be it by partnership,be it by foreign direct investment or as agreed. As you know, there are lots of marginal fields in DELTA STATE who are ready to partner with us to create an industrial and Stronger DELTA.
Earlier you did mentioned that some companies that have left DELTA STAT should return, we want more explanation sir ?
Before now, there were faces but there wasn’t a particular face to face issues and problems that are relating to the oil and gas sector head on but with the creation of the ministry of oil and gas, we tackle issues head on real time and we emphasize in our dealings because the companies and the host communities we put ourselves in their shoes, so that has made it the best environment for oil companies to strive,the companies that has left here to other states, they are beginning to discover that ,we have reduced number of down time and all the issues when raised ,we go down to the communities to see that things are resolved. We seat down and say this is the norm so,we want to encourage those that have their headquarters here to continue to maintain them and those who left to please come back ,there is room for you to come and operate here ,the security is tight ,the tax is liberal, the government policies are friendly, for those who are thinking of leaving our shores to relocate to somewhere else ,it will be a mistake for them to do so , because why ,we are not only the goose that lays the golden egg,we are also business friendly.
Like I keep saying, we are open and ready for business, so for those who are with us, should please remain ,for those who left please come back ,for those who are thinking that oil and gas institution is relocating for one reason or the other feel free to approach the oil and gas ministry headed by my humble self as commissioner for us to spot out important analysis to enable you remain ,we love you and we want you to continue to do your business in our dear state.
Sir ,we know that since you took over the mantle of leadership of this ministry , DELTANS are aware that the ministry of oil and gas is one ministry where host communities and muiti national oil & gas companies do have frequent clashes and each time they call on the commission to address this issues ,what are actually the challenges bedeviling the commission?
Thank you very much for acknowledging the fact that we’ve been doing our very best to ensure that our jobs are done very properly and swiftly and the challenges we are having, you know in this time of debugging funds, you don’t get what you want to operate the way you would have love to but we are prudent managers ,we’ve got wisdom and ability to manage the resources for which we have been given to operate, we are managing ourselves as Oliver twist we hope that the next budget will be well taken care of,so that we can work smoothly instead of stumbling as we are now, we are just managing, if not for the magnanimity of the Governor, life would have been very difficult for us as we also want to encourage oil companies to support , there are programs that we also want to encourage oil companies to support us, there are programs that are coming up towards the end of the year ,we are anticipating to give awards to the most peaceful host community and we are also hoping to give awards to the most organise IOC,or gas company or oil and gas servicing company within our shores and many more, at that time we will need support from THE LIBERATOR NEWSPAPER and other press crews, we will require support from all stakeholders in the oil sector to enable us have that stakeholders meeting to serve you better, in a nutshell, our challenges are not different from what every other ministries are encountering, still the same except for an open review of our fundings of which we are very sure that our Governor who is a man with good heart will listen to us at our next budget and have an open review
As the commissioner for Oil and Gas, what is your ministry in collaboration with the Delta State Government doing about the issue of dead fishes and the fingering of SPDC on the matter?
I like your line of questioning, it was accused, until its proven quilty it remains accused ,we received a letter from host community that some fishes were seen floating in river banks, we also contacted the closest oil company to the community that wrote that letter and there was a joint investigation team supported by the DRP, after our meeting, the joint investigation team of the DRP the host community, ministry of oil and gas and the ministry of environment of DELTA STATE, we had a meeting and we agreed to go and take soil samples or water samples and species of dead fishes in the area, they went, we also agreed on our meeting that those samples when collected should be sent to an individual lab not influenced by SPDC,not influenced by Host communities or the government and as you know in a meeting where you have federal government and the state government,the federal government supersedes the state, just like the laws, we have an interest between the state and the federal, so the DRP updated for three choice of laboratories,which are agreed by the host communities and Spdc ,samples where taken and sent to labs when the results comes they will let us have a copy of such result for now we are yet to receive anything as a result of those dead fishes, the governor of DELTA STATE who is very passionate about the plights of our people knows that fishing is the main livelyhood of our people decided to send palliatives to the immediate affected communities and those palliatives were distributing from government house Annex about two and half months ago.
As we know, river have a tidal flow system so these fishes started appearing in other communities up to about 213 communities ,we’ve taken note of all. DELTA STATE Governor, my Governor, your Governor, our Governor is hoping to provide palliatives to all these communities that have witnessed such destruction in aquatic lives in their various communities and am sure he will look into it and come back to us and once we have a response from his Excellency, we will let the various communities know that this is the response from his Excellency and we will as directed.
As for the investigation done, investigations are still on and when we have such results ,we are not afraid to work in collaboration with any of the coastal states around us ,be it Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom where every species are found or fishes, we are ready to collaborate with them ,in the main time I want to appeal for calm ,I want to appeal for continuous peace and let the authorities do their jobs and come up with scientific proof for us instead of us relying on accusation and I think say. Let us do the real thing.