May 26, 2022

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Much Ado About Planned Sale Of Bayelsa Oil Company

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For the past two weeks, the media have been awash with news of the proposed sale of the Bayelsa State Oil Company Limited (BOCL). It was this medium which first broke the news concerning the plan by the present government of Seriake Dickson to sell off 41 per cent of the BOCL’s 51 percent participating interest in the Atala Marginal Oil Field, together with its operatorship, to Halkin Global Investment Limited, HGIL.
In a letter addressed to the board chairman of BOCL, the secretary/legal adviser to BOCL, Orua Mark accused the state governor of collaborating with the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Ebikabowei Dorgu to sell 41 per cent of the BOCL’s shares, accusing the MD of running the affairs of the company in secrecy.
According to Mark, the MD wanted to coerce him into signing an already prepared document for the sale of the government’s share of the state owned oil field but he declined amidst threats to sack him.
In the letter to the board which copied the state Commissioner for Mineral Resources and the Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice, Mark revealed how he was taken to a hotel in Yenagoa on September 4, 2019, with a view to force him to sign the document.
Since the news broke on the TNN online version, the plan to sell the shares has become a burning issue, with different people, especially on the social media, making comments on the saga. Also, workers of the said company have expressed fears that if BOCL is sold, their eight months unpaid salaries would no longer be paid.
There have been concerns on this matter. Rights activists have urged the government to show transparency in the handling of the issues concerning the oil company and its shares. The government has denied any plans to sell the company.
The company itself has made efforts to explain the allegations away. But then, there is still much more that appear unclear about the whole saga.
The statement by the board chairman of the BOCL is pregnant. If it is true that the company is merely planning to alter its relationship, according to the board chairman, Chief Solomon Agwana, what relationship could that be and with who?
We do not think the rigmarole by the company’s board and its decision to remain economical with the truth on the entire matter is not doing the company or the state any good.
At worst, the company would have come out to give information to the public about the entire deal. If it is actually planning to sell some of the shares of BOCL, it would have been necessary to let the public know every detail information about the whoever they plan to sell the shares and for how much.
As it stands now, the public is made to draw their own conclusions. This is why we stand with those who have called on the state house of assembly to carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain the truth. The lawmakers represent the entire state and the BOCL is a property of the state.
If the lawmakers choose to close their eyes and refuse to see what is going on, history will not judge them well. They have to serve the interest of the state on this matter and stop anybody or group of persons from feeding on the common heritage of Bayelsa people.

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