Mpkoikana Udoma 29 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt –
Few weeks after a group known as the ONELGA Oil and Gas Landlords Families Association in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State shut 37 oil wells belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, another group is threatening to shut the company’s operations in the state.
The group involved in the new threat is the Ebocha New Base Landlords in Mbebede community, also in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area.
Specifically, the Ebocha New Base Landlords are threatening to shut down NAOC facilities in their area, alleging failure of the company to bring development to the community in addition to not extending employment to members of the community.
NAOC facilities in the area include the Agip oil centre, oil and gas pipelines and the Obiafu-Obrikom oil and gas handling facility.
The group claimed that since 1980 when Agip entered into an agreement with the community, the company was yet to extend any form of development to the area or consider its indigenes for employment.
The youth chairman of the landlords’ association, Prince Onyx Ijeoma, who revealed the plan of the group to shut NAOC operations, said the community had in the past initiated several peaceful steps to draw the attention of the company to the issue of the agreement to no avail.
“Since 1980 when the community first signed an agreement with the company, no member of our community has been employed as a staff of NAOC.
“We have all the names of the staff (of the company) and where they are posted,” Ijeoma asserted, accusing some management staff of the company of sharing the employment slots meant for the community.
“We are going to shut down their operations. They neglected our community and neglected the people,” he added.
According to him, the community had previously petitioned the Rivers State government, the State Commissioner of Police and the National Assembly, where they were invited to but NAOC refused to honour the invitation.
He noted that since the company had refused to respect the peaceful initiatives to implement their demands, “they (the landlords) will take a radical option by mobilising the youths and women of the community in shutting down the operations of NAOC.”
The youth leader appealed to the Rivers State government, the Senate and privileged individuals to call the company to order before the situation will get out of hand.
Contacted earlier in the case of the landlords’ shutting of NAOC’s 37 oil wells, a senior official in the company told our correspondent that it is against the company’s policy “to join issues with anybody, group or even the media.”
He added: “Even our Managing Director here in Port Harcourt cannot speak to the media on anything. That is just our policy. Any how you want to slant your story, just go ahead and slant it, but, no official of NAOC will speak to you concerning this issue or any other issues about the company.”