Business Hilights
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Why oil majors keep mum on presidential relocation order, 2 weeks after

Energy lawyer and Lagos human rights advocate, Barrister Chidi Ugoma has given reason why mere presidential directive may not compel the oil majors to relocate their operational head offices from wherever they are now to any of the Niger Delta States.

Findings by Business Hilights two weeks after the then Acting president, and now Vice president, professor of Constitutional Law, Yemi Osinbajo show that major oil companies including Chevron and ExxonMobil are keeping mum on the growing calls for the relocation of their main offices to the Niger Delta where they carry out their exploration and production activities.

Since the directive was handed down, more Niger Delta stakeholders and groups in the Niger Delta had keyed in the relocation order to call on International Oil Companies (IOCs) to comply without further delays.

But in an interview, Dr. Ugoma said “Mere Presidential directive cannot compel IOCs to relocate unless there is an Act of the National Assembly spelling out that”.

“This is why we have been calling on the National Assembly to deliver the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in to so as to achieve such directive seamlessly.

“No law enforcement agency can because of the presidential directive go and accost IOCs in order to compel them to relocate because there is no law backing that, not even an Order of a competent court of jurisdiction.

Ugoma made it clear that as far as the order is concerned, it remains a mere wishful thinking of the Acting president then and cannot be binding because such pronouncements lack basis in law which the IOCs already knows.

In his further submission, he explained that “Nigeria as an oil producing country failed ab-initio to fine-tune the provisions of its petroleum Laws and the current efforts being made by virtue of PIB seems to be facing stiff opposition by interest groups yet to be identified who are working underground to kill it all cost.

He said mere reading the lips of all the image makers of the conce3rned IOCs, one will see that they are not even looking the direction of the directive.

Currently, Chevron Nigeria Limited, ExxonMobil, Total E&P Nigeria and Nigerian Agip Oil Company, the subsidiary of Italian oil major Eni, have their head offices in Lagos.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, which has its corporate headquarters in Port Harcourt, was recently said to be planning to relocate to Lagos, with the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, appealing to the oil major not to leave the Rivers State capital.

Business Hilights recalls that in far away January, the Rivers State Government had petitioned the Senate over the alleged “planned relocation” of the SPDC headquarters from Port Harcourt to Lagos.

Only recently, the Manager, Communications, Chevron Nigeria, Mr. ’Sola Adebawo, replied a media group that “The CNL will not be taking the liberty to comment on this subject of media reports at this time,” indicating that no such directive for relocation had been communicated to them by the Federal Government.

So, whereas followers of the directive need to find out if the Office of the Acting President then, really issued a documented directive to match the order by Osinbajo, it was observed that many corporate chiefs of the affected companies have all been dodging comments on the matter, meaning that they see it a mere statement that lacked the basis of the law.

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