The Lagos State Government, in an effort to ensure peaceful operations in its emerging oil & gas industry, has hosted the inaugural Badagry Youth Oil & Gas Conference which held on 6 February 2020.
The conference was conceptualised to engender first-hand engagement with the youth of the region to discuss the challenges and opportunities connected with the discovery of oil in the area, and foster development dialogue aimed at promoting peace and enhancing sustainable extractive operations and community development.
In his remarks, at the conference the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources Olalere Odusote reiterated the state government’s resolve to work for the communities. He maintained that the concerns of the citizens informed the decision to organise the conference and consultation with stakeholders from the private sector to engender smooth operations.
“The state government is committed to ensuring peaceful coexistence between host communities and companies and we have invited community engagement and sustainability consultancy firm, CSR-in-Action to facilitate the formation of a framework towards ensuring meaningful community engagement practices that align with the aspirations of the youth and people of Badagry and that would bring about the desired development of Badagry and the oil and gas sector in the state,’’ Hon Odusote affirmed.
He added that he would present the main points of the discourse to the Executive Governor and reassured the people of the state government’s willingness to work with all stakeholders in order to achieve favourable outcomes for all parties involved. He further encouraged the youth to be peaceful and law-abiding, promising that there will be continuous engagements with the youth, where issues and concerns will be discussed with a view to addressing them on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mustapha Abdul-Ahmed Olorunfemi lamented the lack of noticeable development in the area and assured of the government’s commitment to ensure that Badagry benefits from the oil and gas activities in the state.
He hinted that there are lots of opportunities coming to Badagry but that it will depend on the resolve of the people, especially the youth to remain peaceful and law-abiding, adding that no troubled area can receive any government’s attention because of the expected hindrance that it would cause. He also reiterated that the Lagos State government would work with CSR-in-Action to develop a roadmap for community engagement with the people aimed at ensuring meaningful development in Badagry.
On her part, the Chief Executive of CSR-in-Action Bekeme Masade-Olowola, in her keynote address themed ‘’Youth Engagement in Oil and Gas Producing Areas as a Panacea for Community Development’’, expressed gratitude to the state government for organising this all-important event and for the opportunity to speak to the community that she shared a bond with starting from when her team came to Badagry as part of documented research into the psyche of community members in oil and gas producing areas in 2018 and stated that her aim is to inspire the youth to become a better version of themselves.
She underscored the significance of the youth conference which provides the government the avenue to actively engage the people of Badagry in line with the recently launched Community Engagement Standards (popularly called the CES), a tool that is aimed at guiding engagement among stakeholders to foster peace, end insecurity and conflicts and bring about sustainable development of the extractive (oil and gas and mining) industries.
“The mixed feelings by the people over recent developments in the area–particularly the discovery of oil in Aje and the planned establishment of a seaport in Badagry—stems from the shallow engagement by successive governments both at federal and state levels. Hence, decisive steps must be taken by all stakeholders to forestall a repetition of the crisis in the Niger Delta,’’ Masade-Olowola said.
She further advised the government to take advantage of the resources in a responsible way by using the accruable financial resources to plan for the long-term without reliance on oil reserves as well as have continuous and meaningful engagement with the people, especially the youth, adding that having the right tool to guide the engagement process is vital because according to a research conducted by Goldman Sachs, about 73 per cent of project delays were due to ‘’above ground’ or non-technical risk, including community resistance.