Port Harcourt — Umuokilide and Umuochidepelu communities in Ukpeliede, Ahoada-West Local Government Area of Rivers State, have threatened to shutdown oil wells operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, in the area over what they described as total neglect by the company.
The traditional ruler of Umuokilide Community, Chief Saturday Ossai, and the Women Leader, Madam Lendy Orlu-Miller, regretted that despite being landlords to Oshie 7 and Oshie 12 oilwells, which the company operates, no development has come to the communities.
Ossai said since 1974 when Agip began exploration in the area, with constant negative impacts on the people and the environment, the oil company has, against every international protocol for host community engagement, refused to discharge its corporate social responsibilities to the host communities.
He wondered why the sons and daughters of the host communities cannot get employment opportunities with Agip despite the peaceful atmosphere pervading the communities which has enabled the Italian firm to operate for decades.
The communities therefore demanded for pipeline surveillance jobs, employment, women empowerment, contracts, building of community town halls, health care facility, monthly allowance, skills acquisition programme, local and foreign scholarships from NAOC.
They appealed to the Federal and Rivers State Governments to prevail on the management of NAOC to live up to their corporate social responsibility, even as they threatened to shut down the oil wells if nothing was done to ameliorate the situation.
“Since Agip was given license by the Federal Government to operate the said oil wells, it has done nothing to compensate the affected communities for the environmental degradation and pollution occasioned by the company’s oil and gas exploration activities here.
“Landlords of the oil wells live in abject poverty with mud houses littered all over and lack of other basic amenities such as healthcare and educational facilities, potable drinking water, and good roads, our children are jobless with no skills or training opportunities.
“We cannot boast of a town hall or empowerment opportunities for our women; with the invasion of the corona virus pandemic in the state, the health status of members of the communities have been adversely affected with no health facility or COVID19 palliative from Agip.”
Also speaking, President General of Ekpeye Youth Congress, Ogboka Umeda, issued a 60 day ultimatum to Agip to meet the people’s demand or face a total shut down of the oil wells, since the company has failed in its corporate social responsibility to her host communities.