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Youths barricade oil firm over alleged disregard for pact in Delta

By Sony Neme, Asaba
30 December 2019   |   3:03 am
Irate youths yesterday barricaded the premises of an oil firm (names withheld) located in Umusadege community, Utagba-Ogbe, Kwale in Ndokwa West Local Council of Delta State over its alleged disregard for a memorandum of understanding

Irate youths yesterday barricaded the premises of an oil firm (names withheld) located in Umusadege community, Utagba-Ogbe, Kwale in Ndokwa West Local Council of Delta State over its alleged disregard for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to address unemployment and lack of infrastructure development in the settlement.

The youth leadership, though prevailed upon by security operatives to remain calm while shunning attempts by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) to address them, however vowed not to leave the vicinity until the managing director of the oil company discusses with them.They maintained that no amount of threat would dislodge them from the tent erected directly in front of the firm’s main gate.

Speaking with The Guardian on the protest, the Public Relations Officer of Umusadege Youths/Contactmen Accredited Committee (CAC), Comrade Anslem Nzete, stated that the oil firm had an option of meeting their demands or close shop for “failing to keep their side of the bargain.” He said: “We are protesting that the oil company should leave Umusadege land. Since 2006, it has been doing very well in terms oil prospecting and production. They are producing over 30,000 barrels of crude oil daily, making them bigger than that of a marginal field, without a commensurate development in the host community.

“Here is a company that does not respect the MoU entered into with our community in the areas of employment for our teeming and qualified graduates, infrastructure development, scholarships and welfare for the aged and others. What they have perfected is continual shifting of goal posts to suit themselves to the detriment of our people.”

Nzete went on: “As a result, the community resolved that since they have refused to keep to the signed MoU, which has expired since 2017, they should give us five per cent of the daily production to enable us develop our community and alleviate the pains of oil and gas exploration and production.

“It is a few days to the end of 2019, the company is yet to sign an MoU for two years running. This is, despite the peaceful environment the community has provided for them to thrive in. Yet there is no electricity, road and our teeming graduates are not being employed. When we ask, they will insult us that the labourers are from our community when we have qualified sons and daughters that are capable of manning all aspects of the company to the MD level.”

The spokesman further stated: “They come here, take our resources and buy oil blocks at wherever they deem fit and leave us in penury. We are saying enough of the insults. You cannot be enjoying our 14 oil wells and care less about our development. They care less about the health hazards their activities pose the air, which have shortened our lifespan.

“We are not leaving here until the MD comes to address our demands. We are tired of their gimmicks. We demand 80 per cent of the positions, because we know what the local content law says. We are about three staff working here, aside from labourers, and it is painful. “We have written severally to the government, we have had meetings and nothing has come out of it. So, if they are not ready to meet our demands, we will rather give the land to Fulani to rear cattle than allow this brazen assault on our environment and lives without commensurate compensations.” Efforts to speak with the company’s representative were futile despite establishing link with the company’s security head at its Lagos head office who gave his name as Mr. Emmanuel by an army officer that simply identified himself as Hussaini.

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