President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the Oloibiri Museum and Research Centre (OMRC), a project aimed at preserving the history of the Nigerian petroleum industry.
The event, which attracted leaders in the industry, took place in Otuabagi, the exact location where commercial quantities of oil were first discovered in Nigeria in 1957.
Speaking on behalf of President Buhari, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, noted that the groundbreaking of the OMRC was a giant step towards correcting a historical oversight.
He explained that the project would correct past attempts at erecting a monument to the discovery of oil in Nigeria, stating that “groundbreaking is different from foundation laying.”
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The ceremony marked the official takeoff of the project, as the contract for the construction of the museum had already been awarded to a reputable construction company.
The groundbreaking event was attended by a host of dignitaries, including the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mr. Mele Kolo Kyari, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, the Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Osunbor, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Samuel Ogbuku, the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, and the Amayanabo of Nembe and Chairman, Board of Directors of Nigeria LNG Limited, Dr. Edmund Daukoru.
Explaining what makes the OMRC project different from previous attempts, Engr. Simbi Wabote stated that “key considerations that enabled us to get to this ceremony we are having today include: credible partnerships, funding model, governance framework, product offerings, project delivery, and long-term sustainability.”
The NDDC’s Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, commended the project promoters, namely the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), NCDMB, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and its Joint Venture Partners, and the Bayelsa State Government.
He added that the NDDC would enhance the work of the partners by constructing a solid road from the state capital to the museum.
The benefits of the OMRC project to Bayelsa, the nation, and the petroleum industry, according to the Minister, include “the retention of historical artifacts of our oil and gas journey over the decades, dissemination of knowledge, creation of an attractive destination for tourists, restoration of the image of Oloibiri community, provision of a conducive environment for research and innovation and job creation.”
In addition to the OMRC, the Minister also performed the groundbreaking of the NCDMB Conference Hotel Project at Swali, which would provide much-needed accommodation facilities to support the Board’s 1000-seater ultra-modern Conference Centre.
The hotel would also accommodate tourists, researchers, and others that visit the Oloibiri Museum and boost the attraction of Yenagoa as a tourist destination.
NCDMB’s Executive Secretary, Engr. Simbi Wabote, explained that the partnership on the project had worked effectively and efficiently “to deliver the project feasibility study, environmental impact assessment (EIA), geotechnical survey, site clearing, and the architectural design.”
He also assured that “the funding model is one of the main focus areas we deliberated upon to ensure that today’s groundbreaking ceremony is not another fluke.”