Multinational ownership structure in Nigeria may be overhauled soon

Jun 05, 2001 02:00 AM

Ownership structure of oil multinationals in the country may be overhauled soon, according to the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. Atiku, during a civil reception for him and Governor Peter Odili in Port Harcourt said the indigenisation policy of the Gen. Yakubu Gowon administration, which resulted in the "Nigerianisation" of multinational firms between 1971 and 1974, will be reviewed.
The vice president stated that the current administration in its bid to improve the area would soon begin discussions with oil and gas firms on the issue. According to him, the government will ensure that communities in the Niger Delta who bear the "brunt of oil and gas activities become stakeholders in economic concerns in the area.

Atiku, who was conferred with the chieftaincy title of mene ledogo (benevolent and good-natured king) of Ogoniland, appealed to the people to avoid all forms of violence and antagonism in the quest for their rights. He also assured the people that "nobody will carry a gun to terrorise Ogonis anymore because you elected the government, stressing that "the Obasanjo administration is committed to redress all the injustices done to Ogoni people.
Odili, while thanking the people for the honour bestowed on him, promised to implement the master plan of Bori town and tar all the streets in the community. Odili said that technical hitches on the transmission line of the Eleme gas turbines would in a few weeks, be rectified to restore electricity to the whole of Ogoniland.
In their address, the people called on the Federal Government to appoint more Ogonis into positions of trust and prevail on multi-national oil companies to employ their indigenes. The people also warned that the destruction of their environment by a recent oil spill from Shell would not be tolerated.

Thousands of Ogoni people graced the occasion. Meanwhile, the vice president has described the scarcity of petroleum products, especially premium motor spirit (PMS) in Port Harcourt and its environs, as embarrassing. He expressed surprise that "Port Harcourt which is the source of the commodity is experiencing the worst scarcity.
"Honestly, I don't know what is happening in Port Harcourt, but it is very embarrassing. In most of the states I have visited, I have seen fuel supply restored to near normalcy," he said. He said that a long-term solution to the crisis is the deregulation of the down stream sector of the petroleum industry. "I don't just know why people cannot understand that monopoly can never be an efficient system of delivering services or even production," he added.

On the astronomical rise in prices of foodstuff in the country, the vice president said that food items are responding to the inflation in the other sectors of the economy. To him, farmers had in the past been cheated by the inappropriate pricing of their commodities leading to mass exodus from the farms to other sectors. Abubakar added: "that was why I pulled out of farming. I used to farm and harvest about 10,000 bags of maize in the mid 80s. I used to produce one ton of maize and then, a ton of maize was being sold at N 1, 500."
He said that he was always losing money and there was no way he could continue farming when he was losing money. Atiku also predicted a major economic eruption that would lead to the social and economic advancement of the Gulf of Guinea, which he said, would begin in the Niger Delta region in the next few years.

Making the prediction at the inauguration of the Delta Environmental Logistics Plant at the Onne oil and gas free zone near Port Harcourt, the vice president, restated the government's commitment to encourage the private sector. The Vice president said the establishment of the environmental waste management plant, which meets international standards, was in line with the main objectives of the government to safeguard the Nigerian environment, especially the Niger Delta region. He said this was the more reason for the creation of the federal ministry of environment to fully address the preservation of the ecosystem.

Source: The Guardian
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