23January 2016, Uyo – The people of Eastern Obolo Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State have warned that if urgent steps are not taken to address issues of neglect and marginalisation affecting them, they will adopt measures that will frustrate oil companies from operating in their territorial water.
Chairman, Eastern Obolo Traditional Rulers’ Council, His Royal Highness, Job Job, told newsmen in Eastern Obolo on Thursday that despite the huge resources exploited from the area, there was no meaningful project to point to as adding values to their lives.
Job revealed that Eastern Obolo, a part of Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, is the highest producer of crude oil in the state, playing host to two major oil firms like Amni International Petroleum Development Company, Shell Petroleum Development Company and hosting three others including ExxonMobil, Total E&P and Conoil Nigeria Limited.
“Since the creation of Eastern Obolo in 1996, not even a kilometre of road has been constructed by the state government.
“The eight-kilometre Okoroete-Elile-Amadaka-Kampa Road had been a subject of campaign promises by past administrations. The road had been part of the state budget of 2012, 2013 and 2014 without implementation.
“Indeed, our hopes in the oil companies operating within Eastern Obolo waters have been dashed and our people are completely ignored, alienated, neglected and cut off from sustainable development,” he lamented.
According to him, the level of marginalisation of the area is so alarming that Eastern Obolo was paid a paltry sum of N250m by ExxonMobil for development purposes while other catchment localities like Onna got N900m, Ibeno N1.6bn, Eket N1.4bn while EsitEket was rewarded with N1.08bn.
Job regretted that about 60 official correspondences had been sent by the Eastern Obolo Council of Chiefs to Amni International Petroleum Company Limited on the grievances of the area, but none had been addressed.
He stated that the indigenes of the area had not been considered for appointment into federal and state services as most of the appointments were rotated between other oil-rich local government areas of Onna, Ibeno, NsitUbium, Ibeno, EsitEket, IkotAbasi and Mbo with lowest oil production.
He said Eastern Obolo was the only core oil producing council area in the state that has not sat on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission since the commission was established in 2000.
According to him, despite several position papers on the formal delineation of boundaries of the area, the state government has turned deaf ears to their request, hence the area is constantly faced with land tussles with neighbouring LGAs.
He maintained that for peace to reign in the area , an indigene of Eastern Oboloshould be appointed as the Managing Director on the board of NDDC; construction of access roads to the LGA; delineation of Eastern OboloState constituency; delineation of formal boundaries with other LGAs; establishment of marine police unit to check sea pirates.
The people also demanded that ExxonMobil sign functional MoU with the area as obtained in Ibeno and other core oil LGAs; employment of indigenes in the managerial positions and ensure that implementation of corporate social responsibility activities.
Job asked Amni International Petroleum Company Ltd to withdraw a suit it indirectly instigated against Eastern Obolo, work with the new Community Relations Committee and also review the MoU that expired six years ago with the people.