BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION HIGHLIGHTS ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES IN NIGER DELTA’ AS PHCCIMA BOSS, OTHERS CALL FOR CHANGE OF THE NARRATIVE

Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce President, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, and other stakeholders have reached a joint consensus on the need to change the narrative for Niger Delta and begin to seek for a more proactive alternative of livelihood that will usher in the much needed promising future we all clamour for. This were the assertions at the launch of ‘the visual documentary - Defiant Ember’, a documentary highlighting the economic opportunities in the Niger Delta, organized by the British High Commission at the Hotel Presidential Port Harcourt. Speaking as special guest at the event the PHCCIMA helmsman as a way forward, urged CEO’s of multinational oil and gas companies in Nigeria to relocate to their areas of operation, stating that such relocation would be a major step in quelling the under development, poverty, insecurity and other associated problems in the areas. He maintained that the failure of oil companies and their critical staff to relocate to their areas of operations is greatly instrumental to repeated failure in efforts to change the narratives in the Niger Delta. Dr. Membere-Otaji cited erstwhile war-torn countries like Libya and Iraq saying top management of these international oil companies like, Shell, Chevron, Total, and others still reside and produce oil in these areas, but lamented that in the case of Nigeria instead of residing in their areas of operation they all run to an acclaimed safe clime making matters in their areas operations worst off. He said that the fastest way of contributing to foster development and curb insecurity in the oil producing Niger Delta was for those oil companies’ management to take the bull by the horn to work and reside in their areas of operations. “That way they will lobby and support the government to show strong political will in not only churning out good policies, but in developing the area especially in infrastructure, education, health, entrepreneurial skills and maintaining security. Then there will be increased economic activities and the youths will be gainfully engaged instead of doing unlawful and illegal things. The PHCCIMA helmsman commended the Britsh High commission for putting together an invaluable programme highlighting the economic opportunities in the Niger Delta; according to him, it shows the level of concern by the British High Commission to better the lot of the Niger Delta people. In his remark, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs Ipalibo Harry Banigo lamented the deplorable state of things in the Niger Delta and the lack of political will by successive federal government to nip the problems in the bud. She corroborated the fact that the region is blessed with enormous potentials but lamented that deliberate stifling policies unnecessary politicking and undue favouratism among others are factors militating against the development of the region. However she said the state government under the present administration has put in place important infrastructures and made invaluable policies to enhance business and stimulate the state economy. She said there is hope with what is attainable in the documentary today for Niger delta commending the NACCIMA Women Business Group PHCCIMA chapter under Miss Jovita Patricks on their effort to go into rice farming inspired by her story. The British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright in his remark called for a conscious effort to change the narrative, he said despite the challenges, there is need to make a difference by working together saying moving forward is what really counts. Stakeholders at the event reached a joint consensus on the need to change the narrative, there were also claims of conspiracy of silence, lack of pragmatic steps by relevant authorities, and absence of co-ordination and lack of proper engagement in the processes of governance among others as bane of the Niger Delta area. Highlight of the event was the panel session that featured question and answer by participants. Stakeholders and Chamber members from the nine Niger Delta states participated in the event.