22 July 2013, Uyo – Women and youths of Unyenge Community in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom on Monday shut down the operations of Universal Energy Resources Limited, UERL, over its employment policy.
They barricaded the road leading to the company’s operational base over alleged marginalisation by the company.
The people carried placards some of which read, “Stop cheating us, we want our people to be employed into managerial positions, Unyenge people say No to the operation of Universal Energy.’’
They said that for peace to reign and cordial relationship exist, “we hereby demand and desire immediate action to be taken on permanent employment of, at least, 15 indigenes of Unyenge community into the managerial level.”
They also urged the company to reserve all community contracts for “our indigenous contractors” and immediately start skill/professional training for the youths and women.
The community also called for the “provision of special welfare package for our chiefs and elders”.
They alleged that the company, which started operations in 2006, had not done anything to impress them.
The spokesman for the people, Chief John Esin, said that Unyenge would no longer tolerate any policy that enslaved their youths.
He said that Unyenge, as the host community of the company, was supposed to produce the community liaison officer and community development officer but rather both positions were given to non-indigenes.
Esin said that the community in May 2012 signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with the company, which had yet to be implemented.
Esin said the community would not allow the company to start operations till all their demands were met.
Meanwhile, the Public Affairs Manager of the company, Mr Iwatt Udofia, said that the company had not ignored the community’s demands.
Udofia appealed to the community to sheath its sword and allow the company to continue its operations.
He said that by Wednesday, the Memorandum Implementation Committee would meet and resolve all the grey areas in the MOU.