Political and traditional leaders from oil producing local government areas in Akwa Ibom State have condemned the refusal by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to move its head office from Lagos to Akwa Ibom State.
The leaders described as “grossly deficient, untenable and not even worth discussion”, the excuse given by the American oil giant.
Mobil has said that the relocation was not practicable for a number of reasons.
The company said Lagos was a better location to run its oil business, alongside its affiliates companies – Mobil Oil Nigeria and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd.
The three companies, Mobil said, are managed by one lead country manager and that Lagos had better infrastructure to support the company’s businesses.
“Lagos offers each of those businesses a convenient and well-suited hub from which all three businesses can be efficiently conducted and coordinated by that manager,” the company said.
The leaders from Akwa oil producing areas, in responding to Mobil’s position, said the company was just being scared of its own shadows.
They said the real reason Mobil has refused to move to Akwa Ibom was that it did not want to expose its expatriates and senior workers to the hazardous environment caused by its years of oil production.
“They have refused to move because they know the level of destruction their operations have brought to the land and people of Akwa Ibom State,” the leaders said in a communiqué, after their meeting at the palace of the Paramount Ruler of Ibeno Local Government Area.
“They believe the environment is unsafe, health-wise for their senior staff considering the frequency of early deaths and reduced life span of the inhabitants of the area.”
The Paramount Ruler of Ibeno, Effiong Archanga, his counterpart in Eket, E.C.D. Abia, and the Head of Awa Afaha Clan, Onna Local Government Area, Raymond Inyang, endorsed the communiqué.
Nduese Essien, a former minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, also endorsed the document.
Essien, who is also a former House of Representatives member, is the Chairman, Technical Committee on Mobil and Core Community Matters, in the state. Other members of the technical committee who endorsed the communiqué are: Etie Ben Akpan and Udo Bassey.
The chairmen of Eket and Onna local government areas, Joshua Ndioho and Frank Archibong, respectively also endorsed the communiqué.
Cashing in on the recent directive by Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, should engage International Oil Companies (IOCs) on the calls for the relocation of their head office, the people asked the federal government to show commitment on the issue by giving clear directives to the companies.
The communiqué chronicled the evolvement of Mobil in the state and the alleged disparity in growth between the company and its host communities and how a massive protest by the communities against Mobil in 1998 led to an agreement for a gradual movement of the company’s head office to Akwa Ibom.
The communiqué said that the agreement was abandoned immediately Mobil was taken over by Exxon to form ExxonMobil.
The communiqué said with the G.S.M telephony and other infrastructures like an international airport now available in Akwa Ibom and with the movement of federal agencies from Lagos to Abuja that it was difficult for Mobil to keep holding on to its old excuses on why it can’t relocate from Lagos to Akwa Ibom.