Bayelsa Assembly Advocates Protection Of Host Communities Interest In Ongoing Divestment In Oil And Gas Sector
Following the ongoing moves by international oil companies to divest some of their onshore interests, the Bayelsa State House of Assembly has advocated that the interests of the State Government, its agencies and communities where oil and gas assets are explored should be protected in the divestment process.
After a careful deliberation of a motion moved by the majority leader, Hon Peter Akpe representing Sagbama constituency 1, the House specifically resolved that ample opportunity and priority attention be given to the Bayelsa State Government and its indigenes to fully partake in the divestment process.
The motion, “Accommodating the interests of Bayelsa State Government, its Agencies and indigenes in the Ongoing Divestments by International Oil Companies' (IOCs) interests in Oil and Gas Assets located in the Territory of the State” was seconded by Hon Obiene Iniyobiyo, Nembe constituency III.
Moving the motion, Hon Akpe argued that host communities bear the brunt of oil and gas exploration and should therefore be made to benefit directly from the returns thereof.
He further observed that a greater part of the Nigerian public will not directly benefit from the divestment, if appropriate steps are not taken, since the majority of the potential investors are privately owned companies whose ownership, in the case of Nigerian companies are more often than not, less than fifty percent (50%).
According to him, the Bayelsa State Government and some of its agencies have already indicated interest to participate in the divestment process.
His words: “ The intention shown by Bayelsa State Government, its company or special purpose vehicles that have been set up to participate in the divestments as potential investors should be recognized as a public trust aimed at securing some interest for the public in the divestment process. This recognition becomes more imperative in the circumstance where the State Government is bidding for oil and gas assets located within our own territory”.
“It is my belief that public trust existing in the form of State Government's participation in the opportunity that the divestment presents, should be worth protecting by this House.
“It is against this background that I urge this House to resolve that all international oil companies operating within the Bayelsa territory who are in the divestment process, including all agents they employ in that regard should give priority and attention to the Bayelsa State Government, its agencies and indigenes who indicated interest and graciously accommodate same in the divestment process,” he said.
Special Assistant on media and publicity to the Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly