BusinessDay

Insecurity in N/Delta region portends danger for Nigeria’s economy – PENGASSAN warns

Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has raised concern over rising security threats in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region.

The union warned that the trend, if not checked, portends serious danger to the overall wellbeing of the nation’s fragile economy.

States in the region which host some of Nigeria’s major oil and gas installations, including Rivers, Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Anambra, Enugu, and Eboyi have in recent times come under serious security infractions. According to the Port Harcourt Zone of PENGASSAN, these infractions are a bad call to any meaningful development, especially with the commencement of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery valued at $1.5billion.

The zone also accounts for a large chunk of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector representing about 85 percent of government revenues. The total revenue flow to the federation, other tiers of government and sub-national entities from all sources (including crude oil sales, taxes, royalties and other incomes) came to $32.6 billion 2018.

“We, therefore, warn that the current state of affairs in kidnapping for ransom, attack on security agencies especially the Nigeria Police and the rise of militia and ragtag armies if allowed to persist may have dire consequences, threats to food and economic security as well as the lives of the citizens of not only the states under the zone but also the entire nation,” a statement endorsed by Peter Onita, chairman, Port Harcourt Zone chairman of PENGASSAN, said.

The association further noted that as a zone with the highest conglomerates and individual key players in the oil and gas sector, “we demand that the states should be empowered with the necessary legislations that will enable them take charge of security issues in their domain. The era of centralised policing should be done away with locals and communities allowed to own and operate arms carrying personnel to protect the huge investments in the oil and gas.”

The association, however, called on investors and management in the oil and gas sector not to hide under COVID-19 to declare redundancy and arbitrary staff dismissal, but should protect their workers against the effects of the pandemic.

It also encouraged companies in the sector to focus on opening new frontiers that will harness the abundant natural gas resources in the zone, which is the ninth-largest in terms of global gas reserves with over 200 Tcf.

These, in addition to establishing modular refineries and training facilities for the youth in the oil-bearing communities, the association believed, would help to mitigate criminalities and other social vices in the all-important zone.

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