29 September, 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa-Although the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta are known to vent their anger on the oil multinationals at the slightest provocation, it was a different scenario yesterday at the Banquet Hall of the Bayelsa State Government House as natives of the oil producing communities in the state in their thousands to celebrate Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) GMoU in the state.
Those who praised implementation of the Shell GMoU include royal fathers such as the respected former Minister of Petroleum, and now the Amayanabo of Nembe Kingdom, HRM Dr. Edmund Daukoru, Mingi the XII Amanayabo of Nembe Kingdom.
It was a carnival of sorts as the various clusters, Tarakiri CDB, Iduwini CDF, Oporomor CDB Nembe City Development Foundation, Bassan West CDB, Kou cluster CDF, Nembe Bassambiri CDF and Bilagorogbene Mein CD came up with their respective stand to exhibit what their communities had benefited from the oil company through the GMoU in the last couple of years.
The large number of people that converged at the banquet hall is understandable as they have come to see the company as their only neighbour giving the latter’s commitment to the provision of some of their basic needs coupled with the near absence of both state and local government in their communities.
To the natives, the GMoU success stories, are many and cut across health, education, electricity, water, economic empowerment and human capital development. In one of the GMoU agreements signed in the state, the Okordia-Zarama cluster provided electricity to the nine communities in the area which has helped to boost economic activities in the communities.
Also in the state, the Nembe cluster set up printing press in Nembe and a transport company which has improved transportation in the area. In addition, the Nembe cluster operates a well furnished guest house and a well equipped cyber café in Nembe town and the cluster is currently renovating the state owned Nembe General Hospital with GMoU funds and also ready to kick start the community health insurance scheme.
In the EA field, some of the clusters such as Kou have successfully implemented their community insurance scheme which is the only means to health security in the area. The six communities in the cluster also enjoy solar powered water scheme, while the women are empowered with micro credit facilities to boost their economic activities.
Another cluster, Iduwini in Ekeremor council area has embarked on different infrastructural projects and trained 25 seamen at the Ghana Maritime University, Ghana. Recently, 60 youths from their cluster were trained in various agro-based enterprises at the Songhai-Amukpe Centre and they were also provided with starter packs to establish them in their trades.
In the Tarakiri cluster, education was a key priority in their needs assessment, which made the CDB to partner with the Bayelsa State National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). As a result of this partnership, 24 NYSC members were posted to schools in Egbemo-Angalabiri and Agbidiama to boost educational standard in the cluster. This yielded result and for the first time in many years, pupils according to report observed Children’s Day in the community while the cluster also awarded scholarships to 130 beneficiaries of tertiary and secondary school students.
No wonder thousands of indigenes from the various clusters rolled out their drum to celebrate the success story of the GMoU.
According to Mr. Tony Attah, SPDC Vice President, HSE and Corporate Affairs, as at June 2011 the company had committed the sum of N4.324billion to regular GMoU CDBs in Bayelsa State alone under the supervision of the Ministry of Energy.
The Vice President, HSE and Corporate Affairs of the SPDC, Mr. Tony Attah who stated this during the 2011 GMoU exhibition held in Yenagoa at the Bayelsa State Government House Banquet Hall said the developmental challenges of the South South region was enormous and cannot be the full responsibility of the oil multinational alone.
“We do not have all the answers or capacity to deal with all the issues in the Niger Delta. If we are going to tackle the challenges faced by the region, there must be a creative partnerships between industry, government at all levels and civil society,” he and urged all stakeholders in the region to work in synergy to address all the socio-economic needs of the zone, with a view to creating enabling atmosphere for peace and tranquility.
Represented by Mr. Evans Krukrubo, Mr. Attah said, “GMOU, a partnership vehicle for social change has undertaken the implementation of 333 projects. More than half of these are already completed and the rest are at various stages of completion.”
Mr. Attah who called on the government both at the state and federal government level to rise up to its responsibilities, added, “Gbarain/Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project has executed 169 projects, including the provision of electricity to nine communities in Okordia/Zarama area of Bayelsa state.”
He further disclosed that “the programmes we are celebrating today are planned, executed and owned by the representatives of cluster communities through various Trusts and Clusters Development Boards (CBD), while SPDC joint venture partnership provide the funding for the projects targeted at enhancing living conditions of the residents in South South.”
In his remark, former Minister of Petroleum, and now the Amayanabo of Nembe Kingdom, HRM Dr. Edmund Daukoru, Mingi the XII admitted that SPDC had impacted positively on the capital development of the oil producing communities, adding that the oil giant should not rest on its oars and do more for the Niger Delta region, with a view to ensuring sustainable development.
Daukoru, who is also the chairman, South-South Monarch Forum, called on the host communities to protect the capital projects implemented so far for the benefit of all and sundry.
He commended the company and wished that the GMoU model would have been in place many years ago as it has brought development to communities within the short period of its existence;
Also speaking, the chairman of Kou Cluster Development Foundation, Mr. Osteen Igbapike while commending the effort of the SPDC said, “Kou Cluster Development Board is proud to say that GMoU is the best interface that has come to the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta,” adding that between 2007 and 2011 the foundation has successfully carried out 35 social and infrastructural projects.
Representatives of the various clusters also lauded the SPDC for the GMoU which they described as vehicle for social change