Human rights activists, civil society organisations, professionals and opinion leaders in Delta State have bemoaned what they referred to as the lack of growth and development in the state, and called for a return of oil companies to the area.
Speaking at a yearly stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), led by its National President, Emmanuel Igbini, at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Uwvie Local Government Area of the state, they noted that despite the huge resources accruing to the state, it was far behind states without oil.
The stakeholders also urged Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, and the state House of Assembly to address the levies and taxes imposed on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
They also lamented the relocation of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) from the state, noting that the relocation had led to simultaneous relocations of many oil and gas servicing companies, a move which has not worked well in their favour.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the stakeholders' meeting on the state of politics and socio-economy of Delta State, signed by Emmanuel Igbini, on behalf of the stakeholders.
The communiqué read: "These relocations also led to mass movement of thousands of staff of SPDC, the servicing companies and hundreds of other allied companies to Lagos. This, as expected, led to massive job losses and economic recession in the oil city of Warri and environs and, by extension, Delta State.
"The increasing economic hopeless and recession now imposed on Warri, as a result of the immoral, uneconomical and unconstitutional relocation of these oil companies from Warri to Lagos, has led to many youths and the sacked workers of these companies to resort to criminalities under the guise of ‘yahoo boys’, prostitution and desperate journeys through Libya and deserts to Europe for survival. This, no doubt, affects the image of Nigeria.”
The stakeholders also described the relocation of Shell to Lagos as a “gross violation of Section 16 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, which forbids the undue concentration of wealth and resources of Nigeria in a particular state, in this case, Lagos State”, and urged the Federal Government to “correct this Constitutional infraction”.
They called on socio-critics and activists in the state to continue to hold government accountable to the people and ensure credible, free, fair and transparent election come 2019, and urged Governor Okowa and and other political stakeholders to ensure that peace and security is improved upon in the communities.