Convert Abandoned Shell Airstrip in Oloibiri to Airforce base - Senate Tells Federal Government

May 24, 2024 - 10:28
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Convert Abandoned Shell Airstrip in Oloibiri to Airforce base - Senate Tells Federal Government

By Chinedu Echianu

The Senate Thursday urged the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Airforce, to take over and convert the deserted and uncultivated waste land of the abandoned Shell Airstrip at Oloibiri Oil well one, to a modern Airforce base in Bayelsa State.

 It also urged Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), other oil companies and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to contribute resources for the Airforce Project. Senate's resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored to that effect by Senator Agadaga Benson Sunday (PDP Bayelsa East) Senator Agadaga in his lead debate on the motion, informed the Senate that the Shell Airstrip, constructed in1958 following the first discovery of crude oil in 1956 and sitting on over 25 hectres of land situated at Itokopiri bush which is hosting the famous Oloibiri Oil well 1 in Otuogidi Community, has long been abandoned.

He said the Airstrip, while in effective operation, was a very valuable asset in the company's oil exploration and exploitation activities in airlifting of personnel and equipment for that period, adding that during the years of its functionality, heavy duty equipment, Company Workers, Captains of Industry, top Government functionaries and Diplomats resorted to the route for easy access to the Niger Delta region.

He however lamented that since the gradual decline of Shell's operations in the area and final departure from Oloibiri oil field, the Airstrip and the land where it operated have been abandoned and left desolate even as the land itself appears to have been sentenced to perpetual condemnation as no agricultural activity which is the economic mainstay of the local dwellers can be carried out anymore as a result of the concretized topography of the soil.

The state of the abandoned Airstrip, according to him, poses environmental challenges and serious ecological complications to the Host Community as Shell has left the people in deprivation, squalor and lamentation after decades of operation. He therefore declared that upgrading the abandoned Airstrip to an Air Force Base will bring renewed hope to the people, restore life to the area and attract the following benefits to the country.

 "It will also strengthen the security architecture of Nigeria as the creeks of Bayelsa up to Brass Island and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the gulf of Guinea where the oil export terminal is located will be easily monitored and protected.

 "Reduce the rate of oil theft and pipeline vandalism as it will enhance surveillance activities in the numerous oil producing and impacted communities of the area which constitute the hub of oil industry activities in Nigeria; and attract more business opportunities in the area thereby creating additional jobs to boost the economic growth of our nation and ease the cost of living of the people", he added. Virtually all Senators who contributed to the debate on the motion, supported it.

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