Okoroma community decries neglect by Agip, gives deadline for renewal of MoU

Posted by News Express | 28 April 2020 | 822 times

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The people of Okoroma Clan in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Monday demanded that a lapsed agreement with Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) be renewed with 14 days.

The residents regretted that jobs reserved for members of the oil firm in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which expired in 2011 was being diverted.

They therefore advised NAOC to refrain from awarding contracts meant for them to others in the state or consider shutting down their operations in the area.

The oil-bearing communities made the demand under the auspices of Okoroma Volunteers a socio-cultural organization and pressure group of Okoroma clan.

Spokesman of Okoroma Volunteers, Mr. Ubani Godwin, who narrated the plight of the people in an interview in Yenagoa the state capital said that the people have been marginalized by NAOC.

According to him, since crude oil exploration started in the area, communities from the clan have been continuously denied the opportunity to benefit from oil and gas wellhead and pipeline surveillance contracts from Agip.

The people further lamented that despite being the only clan that has Agip crude oil producing wells and flow stations in the entire Nembe LGA, they are never considered for employment into the company.

According to Godwin, it is regrettable that as owners of the land hosting the crude oil flow stations, Agip had continued to give their benefits to some persons in neighbouring communities, thereby leaving them in total neglect.

He alleged that anytime the people attempt to agitate against this ill-treatment, there are few saboteurs from the clan who feed on crumbs from Agip that are used to counter the people's demands.

According to him, the saboteurs resorted to blackmail of different types just to deny the development agenda of the clan, thereby denying the Clan of its legitimate benefits.

“When Bayelsa was created, for administrative purposes, Okoroma Clan was attached to Nembe LGA.

“And today, we stand as the only Clan in Nembe LGA that is host to all Agip flow stations and oil producing wells but as we speak, the last time the company signed any MoU with us was in 2006 which expired in 2011. And since then, we have not had a new one.

“As we speak, other clans in Nembe LGA are benefitting from Agip's oil and gas pipeline surveillance contracts but in our own case, the contract of our Clan is awarded to persons from neighbouring communities.

“The beneficiaries of these unfair treatments to us in Okoroma are those that are very close to the government, thereby leaving our men, women and youths unemployed.

“To put the record straight at this point, in 2006 when we protested against Agip for failing to meet up with its corporate social responsibility just as they are doing today, they employed to services of military men who fired gunshots into the crowd of peaceful protesters, killing a young man named Erefagha Oyagiri.

“Our message to Agip this time is the fact that, we have resolved as a people that no number of military personnel would deter us from shutting down the activities of Agip in our communities at the expiration of our 14 days ultimatum to them.

“We promise them that if they try to stop us this time, they would have to kill all of us in the process,” Godwin said.

Public Affairs officials of Agip declined to comment on the issues raised by the community.

However, Cionni Marila, spokesperson for Eni, the Italian parent company of NAOC who was contacted for a response said the oil firm would look at the allegations and respond in due course.



Source: News Express

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