The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism, Mr. Piriye Kiyaramo has enjoined oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region to weave local festivals around the days crude oil was discovered in their areas, adding that oil heritage should form part of their annual festivals in the region to promote energy tourism and conservation education.
Mr. Kiyaramo who made the call at the seventh edition of the annual “National Oil & Gas Discovery Day Festival held at the site of Oloibiri Oil Well 1, where crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity on Sunday 15 January 1956 by Shell Darcy, in Otuabagi Community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, noted that crude oil sites are now being promoted all over the world as special interest tourism niche destinations to attract visitors and adventure tourists alike to such places.
He stated that the Oloibiri oil discovery ended 50 years of unsuccessful oil exploration activities of the various international oil companies, launching Nigeria into the limelight of the Petro-State.
The Senior Special Assistant maintained that weaving annual festivals around oil producing communities across the Niger Delta region would go a long way to re-awaken the consciousness of the locals, particularly the youths to the potential of crude oil heritage as part of efforts to re-enact the essence of the natural endowment in the region.
“Energy tourism is a novel field of tourism that will likely grow in the future. Relationship between tourism development, energy demand and growth factors are widely being investigated and monitored in both developed and developing countries.
“Without understanding the critical impact of tourism on energy consumption, policymakers and stakeholders worldwide are unlikely to develop policies to reduce the negative impact of oil and gas exploration activities in the region.
“Similarly, energy tourism involves visits by tourists to former or regenerated sites, as well as operational energy sites where some facilities, services, or activities have been provided specifically for tourists’ use”, he explained.
Hon. Chief Ebiango Egain Okoba, APC flag bearer for Ogbia Consistency 1, in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and chairman of the occasion, noted with sadness that such an important event would not attract top government functionaries from the federal government, describing the story of Oloibiri Well 1, as a paradox, just as he promised to support the festival whenever he was called upon to make his little contribution.
Also speaking, the Acting Curator of the prosposed Oloibiri Oil & Gas Museum and Research Centre, Mrs Rachel Adelani, in her speech noted that: “January 15, 1956 is very significant in the history of our nation Nigeria and especially in the history of this community Otuabagi in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state.
“Today we are here to pay tribute to our God given oil heritage and all the blessings that come with it. What we are doing here is important because we are building a society that we have keen interest in.
“This is our heritage, we at the National Commision for Museums and Monuments are very happy to identify with this annual oil and gas celebration because it is our job to preserve and ensure the integrity of our heritage.
“I therefore urge all relevant authorities and stakeholders in the oil and gas sector contribute their quota so that together we can promote oil and gas heritage in Bayelsa and in Nigeria”, She said.
His Eminence, King Dumaro Charles Owaba, the Obanobhan III of Ogbia Kingdom who also doubles as second Deputy Chairman, Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, represented by his personal assistant, Snr. Apt. Wisdom Otolor, assured the gathering of the support of his palace and the entire Ogbia Kingdom, saying that the organisers’ will dream will certainly come into fruition some day.
Founder of Oloibiri Oil & Gas Discovery Day Initiative (OLOGADDI), Pastor Naranie Albert Karibo, said: “The objective of the annual ceremony was to ensure that the day crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria at Oloibiri Well 1, precisely on 15th, January 1956 is recognised and celebrated every year in Nigeria, as well as to collaborate with government and private organisations to reduce the violent agitations within the Niger Delta Region through advocacy and other empowerment training programmes.
“We mark the day to keep alive the memories of the younger generation that crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria on Sunday, 15th January 1956 by Shell Darcy at the Oloibiri Oil Field (Well 1) Otuabagi in Oloibiri Clan. To Prayerfully Intercede for the oil rich Niger Delta Region as against violence as medium of agitation for development.
“And to advocate and bring alive the vision of true development, peace and unity started by Rev. Amangala Egabu, Chief Sen. Melford Obiene Okilo, Ken Saro-wiwa, Isaac Jasper Adaka-Boro, all of blessed memory of the Ogbia Kingdom, the Ijaw Nation, Ogoni Kingdom and Nigeria in general”, Pastor Naranie Albert Karibo explained.
President of Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Council (OBYC) Worldwide, represented by National Secretary General Comr. Robert, Nitabai Desmond (JP), thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the needed leadership and rekindling hope amongst Ogbia people and the Niger Delta region by resurrecting the long and almost forgotten Oloibiri Oil Museum and Research Institute, as being championed by His Excellency, Chief. Timipre Sylva, Minister of State Petroleum, Distinguished Senator Degi-Eremienyo, Senator representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District and Hon. Azibapu Fred Obua, Member, Nigeria House of Representative, Ogbia Federal Constituency, who against all odds were able to pursue for the implentation of the Oloibiri Oil Museum and Research Institute at Otuabagi Community, with visible commitment shown by all partners involved.
While commending the state governor, Sen. Douye Diri, for fulfilling the Bayelsa State contribution to the project by opening up the land for use, Comr. Robert, Nitabai Desmond (JP), however, dissatisfaction with the absence of workable social amenities in the area after sixty seven (67) years of crude oil exploration and exploitation in Ogbia Kingdom and Niger Delta in general, saying he was still confident that Ogbia Kingdom, Niger Delta Region and Nigeria will smile and journey favourably towards the full restoration of her lost glory.
“Therefore, we must join hands with the federal government of Nigeria, development partners and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) like the Oloibiri Oil & Gas Discovery Day Initiative (OLOGADDI) to champion the development of key infrastructure across our communities and human capital development”, he said.
Earlier, the chairman of the organising committee, Ms. Doris Egba had lamented that: “Oloibiri Well 1, Otuabagi, has been the goose that laid the golden which launched Nigeria into the limelight of petro-dollar economy but has nothing to offer in terms of infrastructural development.
“This oilfield has raised millionaires and billionaires both locally and internationally, it has built bridges, airports, seaports, roads, hospitals, good schools in others parts of Nigeria and has provided electricity to major cities across the country, while the host communities are left wallowing in abject poverty and want”, she regretted.
Dignitaries who graced the epoch making event include,
High Chief Emuah Endurance (Deputy Chairman, Otuabagi Council of Chiefs), HRH King Lawrence G. Idumesaro (PRO, Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Integral), Jackson Collins Igbabiri (Oil and Gas Producing Areas Enlightenment and Empowerment Initiative (OGPAEEI) and Mrs. Roseline Biobara aka Mama Rose (Chief Security Officer, Federal University Otuoke).
Others were High Chief Obi Mac-Wilson,
High Chief Amangi Daniel aka Chief Abu,
Mrs. Isilu Amagiri (Otuabagi Women Leader), Mr. Omokoria Adioni (CDC Chairman, Otuabagi Community), DPO, Ogbia Police Division, represented by Mr. Edmond Odu (Ogbia Police Admin. Officer), PFN Chairman, Ogbia LGA, represented by Past. Akundinobi Vincent (PFN Secretary, Ogbia LGA), Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Council (OBYC) worldwide represented by Comr. Robert Ediabai (Secretary General, Ogbia Brotherhood Youth Council (OBYC) worldwide and Chief George Obeine (CDC Chairman, Opume)