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Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has urged international oil companies (IOCs) and regulatory bodies in the oil industry to embrace the campaign against environmental degradation in the Niger Delta.

Governor Dickson said the oil firms should accord priority to the imperative of meeting international best practices in carrying out their operations in the Niger Delta.

The governor spoke on Thursday at the ongoing two-day Nigeria Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

He lamented the level of environmental degradation and the attendant challenges facing oil producing areas in the country.

Special Adviser to the governor on Media Relation, Fidelis Soriwei, quoted Governor Dickson as stressing the need for all stakeholders to take the issue of the environment and economic inclusion seriously to ensure sustainable peace and stability.

The governor pointed out that demand for environmental justice and preservation should be the concern of not only Bayelsa State or the South-South people but also the entire country, because the environment was the common heritage of everybody.

He said: “As you know me, I will continue to raise those issues and concerns that are germane to our people, especially as it concerns the environment. Just last week, I empanelled a fact-finding Commission of Enquiry on our environment.

“The concern of Bayelsa on the environment should be the concern for all of us, because the environment is the collective heritage of all mankind.

“There is no Bayelsa environment and there is no Sokoto environment. Yes, we may feel it more today, but with time, it gets to everybody.

“So, we need to collaborate more on issues of the environment. On our part as a state government, we want to assure you that we will continue to discharge our duty and obligation, working together with security agencies and community leaders to promote and maintain a conducive operating environment.”

Governor Dickson expressed gratitude to the Federal Government, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, and other partners for building a state-of-the-art headquarters for the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board in Yenagoa.

He also commended the Executive Secretary of the Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, and management and staff of MegaStar Construction Company for expediting work on the project.

The governor reiterated his call on oil companies to relocate their operational headquarters to Bayelsa, which he described as the cradle of oil and gas business in Nigeria.

He restated the commitment of his administration to continue to provide the enabling environment for investments in the state.

According to him, the Bayelsa International Cargo/Passenger Airport and other investment in education, health and tourism sectors were purposefully made to attract the oil companies and other investors to the state.

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, identified the celebration of mediocrity as reason why the country had not made appreciable progress in the oil and gas industry.

He said the country should have been producing four million barrels of crude oil and not the current two million barrels.

He called on the participants to see the conference as an opportunity to have sober reflection on why the industry was still underdeveloped and dominated by expatriates, and take bold steps to explore opportunities in the sector.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote, expressed delight over the holding of the first NOGOF in Yenagoa since the inception of the board.

Engr. Wabote, who commended the Managing Director of Mega Star, Architect Harcourt Aduke, for building the 17-storey headquarters according to specification and schedule, assured that the project would be commissioned for use by July, this year.

The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Baru Maikanti, represented by the Chief Operating Officer (Upstream), Rabiu Bello, and former Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Ernest Nwapa, were among those who delivered goodwill messages at the conference.

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