Felix Jeremiah, Bayelsa

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.