Ibifiri Bobmanuel, the president of the Rivers Entrepreneur and Investors’ Forum, has disclosed that the Dangote Petroleum Refinery was relocated from Rivers State to Lagos State as a result of the acts of the Rivers State Government and some local governments in the state.
Bobmanuel, in an interview said the forum engaged the management of the Dangote Group and also wrote the Federal government for the refineries not to be moved to Lagos.
The President of REIF, however, noted that it was discovered that the Rivers State Government and the local governments where the refineries were to be located, Okrika and Eleme made huge demands from Dangote Group, which led them to move the refineries to Lagos.
“The Dangote refinery was to be situated in Rivers State and later they made a U-turn and went to Lagos, and we were very miffed by the whole approach.
“We wrote a couple of letters to the management of the Dangote group. “We went as far as writing to the Federal Government.
“When they called for a meeting with us, we went for that meeting. It was discovered that the investment that was meant to be situated in Rivers State, precisely Okrika and Eleme Local Government Areas, they got preliminary land acquisition and agreement and perfected all that.
“But the amount of pushback and demands that were from the state government at that time, obviously, left them with no other option but to go and situate the business at a location where they were welcomed.”
Bobmanuel said the Rivers State Government, local governments and communities need to understand how to negotiate with business owners to attract businesses.
“This brings us back to what we at the Investors’ Forum have always talked about. We’ve always felt the Rivers State Government, the local governments and the communities need to understand the language of businesses.
“You can only imagine the amount of impact the refinery is going to have on the IGR of Lagos State. Imagine if that investment was situated in Rivers State”.
He said the incoming government needs to sit up and see the importance of private participation in governance in the state.