15 May 2014, Warri – Hundreds of women of Eruemukohwarien and Effurun-Otor communities, Ughelli North and South Local Government Areas, Delta State, yesterday, stormed the premises of the Ughelli Pumping Station, UPS, protesting the alleged neglect and non-employment of the communities’ youths by the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC.
Displaying placards, some of which read, “Employ our children, NPDC,” “FG, our lands are infertile, our crops are dying,” “We are being enslaved in our land,” “Pay us our expired leases and rents,” “NPDC, give us what is due to us,” amongst others, the women lamented that the communities had nothing to show for the over 56 years of oil exploration in their areas.
Speaking with newsmen before the arrival of soldiers, spokespersons of the women, Mrs. Oti Idogun and Mrs. Grace Shalomi insisted that indigenes of the communities were being deprived of what was due to them by the company.
Also speaking, the Pubic Relations Officer of Eruemukohwarien community, Mr. Naira Idogun, said that the women decided to embark on the protest because NPDC had not deemed it fit to have one on one contact with the community before going ahead with its operations.
Idogun said: “Aside that, the communities have taken several steps to ensure that we have a roundtable with NPDC, all to no avail. That is the major reason why the women are out, so that they can pour out their hearts and tell the world the gross marginalisation that is being meted out to the communities.
“Apart from that, before the exit of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, it was owing these communities expired leases and rents which are due to them. From that time, they refused to even negotiate on this issue let alone pay anything. We had tried everything within our power to ensure that we get what is due to us, but to no avail.”
Contacted, a senior official of the company said four youths of the communities were currently being interviewed by the company in Benin City, Edo State, for employment. The official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The youths have to go through the process.”