Don’t relocate NGMC from Warri!
Whatever is the motive of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation concerning reported relocation of its marketing subsidiary, Nigeria Gas Marketing Company Limited (NGMC), consideration must be given to peace in the Niger Delta area and indeed the country that is already facing terrorism and other security challenges.
The NNPC and by extension Federal Government, should also consider the operational and logistical difficulties that will be created if, as it is being planned, the NGMC’s headquarters is moved from Warri to Abuja.
A report of the planned relocation quoted the NNPC as saying a memorandum to relocate the NGMC from Warri to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, had been perfected by the authorities.
Although the NNPC has denied the relocation move and assured the host communities that the NGMC would be staying in the Niger Delta, the people are saying that government’s past denials had turned out to be unhelpful. Trust, the building block of credibility, is once again in trouble in the polity. It is therefore necessary to warn the authorities, notably the decision-makers, about the possible negative impacts that such an ill-advised move would have on the country’s security and the economy.
Major reasons purported for the relocation include concerns for office accommodation and security, opportunity for more customers and their willingness to attend meetings, reduction of cost of travelling, proximity to NNPC corporate headquarters, cost of paying rent, cost of office maintenance and the stability of power supply. These reasons are not good enough, especially at a time most citizens and leaders in the oil-rich Niger Delta region are questioning the rationale for the establishment of the NNPC Headquarters and other related offices in Abuja and not in the hub of hydro-carbon activities in the country. The International Oil Companies (IOCs) that relocated their offices from the Niger Delta areas had received some flaks from the host communities which requested the authorities in Abuja to ask the companies to return.
The Nigerian mindset that measures the value of any establishment or activity, by its physical or strategic proximity to the nation’s capital needs to change at this time. Perhaps due to the inordinate and unnecessary largeness of the Federal Government that the headquarters represents, the country’s security agencies, private businesses, universities, state governments and even NGOs have become sycophantic extensions of the will of whoever occupies the central seat of power in Abuja. And this is a major reason why the country is not making significant progress in many areas of its existence. There is over concentration in Abuja at the expense of the units and this is not good for any federal system.
The principal authority of the NGMC must resolve to do better than succumb to this unitarism. It must resist the unwholesome centripetal bureaucratic force that pulls everything towards an already clogged centre. There is no better place for the NGMC to be located than in the Niger Delta, where the raw materials for the very product that it markets are deposited in the largest quantities. In the administration of states and commonwealths, there are certain actions and schemes that do not make sense. The planned relocation of the NGMC offices from Warri to Abuja is one of such schemes.
Government is therefore strongly advised to refrain from doing so. If anything, it is the International Oil Companies that should relocate their headquarters, as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo once directed as Acting President, from wherever they are located to the Niger Delta where the resource for their business is domiciled.
Finally, there is no denying that the location of the NGMC and other allied companies borders on the issue of federalism and resource control. It is lamentable that this government has not come to terms with the imperative of a proper federation that would take care of this and many other absurdities in the political economy. Even more painful is the fact that government is now the one encouraging companies, including government-owned companies to move their headquarters from their areas of operations to Abuja. In a true federal system, companies would be compelled to provide fair deals for their host communities. No one would be doing business in one region while its headquarters would be in another. Let this, therefore, be another call to the government of the day to begin the restructuring of the nation along the lines of a proper federalism.
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