Port Harcourt — Contracts for the deflooding of Aggah community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA in Rivers State, awarded by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, has pitched some members of the community against the Chiefs of the community.
In 2018, SweetCrude Reports reported that Aggah community had petitioned Italian government and Eni, the parent company of NAOC, stating that Agip built its oil producing platforms on water right-of-way, thereby causing the community to experience recurrent flood since over 40years of Agip’s operation the area.
Spearheaded by a group known as Egbema Voice of Freedom, the community had pointed out that Agip’s facility blocked the channel through which water from the community empties into Oloshi River in the area.
After several litigation and dialogue in Italy, which the group won, NAOC had issued contracts for the building of 12 culverts and drainages to deflood the community and pushed the flood into the river.
But the projects are now generating controversy and disagreements amongst members of the community, as residents at the weekend staged a protest, accusing their Paramount Ruler of conniving with some staff of Agip with the plans to deliver a substandard project and sabotage the company’s efforts.
The protesters are demanding that the Egbema Voice of Freedom should be made to supervise and monitor the projects, since it was the group who had dragged Eni and NAOC to reason with the community and remedy the situation by awarding contracts in the first instance.
Leader of the protest, Elder Martin Obioha, advised the management of NAOC to checkmate activities of some of their staff members to ensure the smooth execution of the project without crisis.
Obioha stated that they were not against the contractors handling the project, but what they want is that a quality job is delivered.
“We thank Agip for accepting to come and remedy the situation. But, we are worried over the activities of some people in Agip and in our community who are working to sabotage this effort by Egbema Voice of Freedom.
“We are calling on Agip to call them to order, to avoid breakdown of law and order. Their plan to stop this project will cause problem in Aggah. It will be disastrous if the target of these people is achieved. Their actions are not in the interest of Aggah people.”
Also, a youth leader in the community, Nwabuisi Chinonye, called on President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Nyesom Wike, and security agencies to give attention to the impending crisis in the community, warning that there will be chaos if the jobs are not properly done.
Chinonye noted that Agip had promised to write the community before it would mobilise the contractors to site, regretting that the contractor was already mobilizing to site without the notice of the complainant, Egbema Voice of Freedom.
He said EVF had asked the contractors to make public the contract details, scope of job and other information to ensure a quality project is delivered, but the contractors have refused to furnish the community with the information, rather was working the Chiefs who, according to him, had claimed there was no flood in the community.
“We thank the Vice Chairman of Eni, the parent company of Agip, Luigi Sampaolo, for seeing the efforts of our son, Pastor Nicholas Evaristus, and approving the jobs to resolve the issues causing the flood in our community.
“This August I will be packing out of my house because the flood will come serious. They want to put up a substandard project in the community. They should allow Egbema Voice of Freedom to monitor and supervise the job.
“These same people are the ones who said there was no flood in the community, how then do you think they can ensure a quality project is done, when they did not even accept that the community was flooded in the first instance?”
For her part, the woman leader of Aggah, Elechi Victoria, noted that the affected people are afraid that the money budgeted for the project may not be used properly if not properly managed.
“We are afraid that the money budgeted for this job may be mismanaged because they want to hijack the process. The contractors are working in synergy with them so that the work will not be done properly.
“The contractors don’t want to do the work as required. Even Agip here and the contractors do not want EVF to see the Contract Document. We don’t know the scope of the job.”
Meanwhile, the Paramount Ruler of Aggah Community, HRH Eze Ignatius Ekezie, has denied the allegation that he was working with some staff of NAOC to sabotage the project, stating that rather, it was Egbema Voice of Freedom who was working to stop development in the community.
Ekezie alleged that EVF has refused to work with the community, adding that the group is acting as an autonomous community and want to push the community away.
“They are telling lies in all those claims. They are behaving like an autonomous community. It is not bad they attracted the process. The contractor has even mobilized to site. Work is about to commence.
“I have invited them so we can set up a Monitoring and Compliance Committee to supervise the job. They will get three slots while the community will take two but they refused. Their annoyance is that Agip involved the community in the process,” Eze Ekezie said.