Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria's Energy Minister, is currently under intense heat from pressure groups pushing for fairer oil project deals for local servicing companies.
They are protesting that the transnational oil and gas corporations operating in the country have been subverting the country's Local Content Act in favour of foreign oil servicing companies.
Going by what is filtering out to AkanimoReports, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, an Ijaw who is married to an Igbo retired naval chief, has to choose between siding with the indigenous operators in the messy Nigerian oil industry and quitting honourably.
But those who appear to know the minister better say she is as concerned as the protesting civil society groups. They are arguing that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), when finally passed by the National Assembly, would empower the local players more.
Till then, the Niger Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change (NDIMRC) is pressing the minister on "juicy" contract opportunities for indigenous players. They claimed that there is an uneasy calm in the oil region over "preference" allegedly given to foreign oil servicing firms at the expense of the local companies.
Nelly Emma, President of the group, told AkanimoReports at Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, on Thursday that they want the minister to focus attention on indigenous oil and gas companies in the Niger Delta in a frantic bid to reduce the growing unease, poverty and violent crimes.
"We expect her to come up with her plans for indigenous investors. Our people have confidence in the Local Content Act -- that is why they are investing heavily in capacity building," he said.
Continuing, he said, "the peoples of the Niger Delta can no longer be deceived. We all want the minister to perform by creating contract opportunities for our local investors. We want her to take drastic action because we are not happy that the Forcados-Yokri Integrated Project was awarded to O.P.I. that does not have any office in Nigeria.
"O.P.I. got the Forcados-Yokri Integrated Project job as a result of the single sourcing approved by the minister, and we don’t want to believe that we are being manipulated by those who are against the removal of fuel subsidy by President Goodluck Jonathan."
According to Emma, "juicy oil deals to the local firms will assist much in bringing down the poverty level in our region. I must be very frank with you -- we are not happy with the poverty level in the Niger Delta." ENDS