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Bayelsa govt pledges to protect community interests in GMoUs with firms

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Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri (middle), Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo (fifth left), Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff (fourth left), new Commander, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Aminu Hassan and others during a visit to Government House, Yenagoa…yesterday

The Bayelsa State government has pledged to protect community interests in the preparation of Global Memorandum of Understanding ((GMoUs) with corporate organisations operating in the state.

Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the clarification at a meeting with traditional rulers from Brass Council in Yenagoa.

He assured that government would do everything within its powers to ensure the successful implementation of the GMoU between the Brass Fertilizer Company and its host community.

Ewhrudjakpo said the state government’s intervention in the contract was to protect the people from being shortchanged rather than scuttle the project as speculated in the media by those he described as ‘mischief makers.’

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In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Doubara Atasi, the deputy governor reminded the people that conflicts in most communities were especially traceable to oil companies failure to honour memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with their host communities.

He stressed that henceforth, all MoUs must be signed with the involvement of the state government to avert situations where companies would renege on their agreements and promote peace in the communities.

His words: “On the issue of companies not recognising their host communities, there is a law that states that if they are not party to an agreement, they cannot acquire rights and incur liabilities.

“If there is an agreement and no third party witnessed it, that becomes a problem, because when the companies overwhelm the communities, there is nothing anybody can do.

“So, government is only trying to minimise the crisis that may emanate from breaches of such agreements, not trying to take over the running of the MoUs. Rather, government wants to ensure that if a company is coming to operate in Twon-Brass, for example, we must know what it is coming to do there and content of its agreement with the community.”

He further explained that the government was not scuttling the MoUs between communities and companies, insisting that if it was aware of the content of such agreements, it could then influence the companies to implement what the MoUs.

Highlighting the role of traditional institutions in society, Ewhrudjakpo urged royal fathers, council chairmen and community leaders to assist security personnel by profiling visitors to various communities in the state.

Ewhrudjakpo also expressed displeasure over inability of council chairmen to hold monthly meetings with other stakeholders in their domains as the state government earlier directed.

Speaking, representative of Brass Constituency II and Minority Whip in the State House of Assembly, Omubo Agala and his Brass Constituency I counterpart, Dr. Charles Daniel, commended Governor Douye Diri for taking a bold step to protect the interest of Brass people in the fertilizer project.

Also, Chairman, State Traditional Rulers Council and Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, advocated the need to review the welfare of traditional rulers.

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