Port Harcourt — Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has warned that the State Government will not tolerate the shutting down of oil production facilities of oil firms operating in the state, by host communities.
Governor Wike said under no circumstances should communities take laws into their hands by preventing oil companies from operating.
Speaking during a meeting with Chairmen of Degema, Asari-Toru, and Akuku-Toru, DAA3 Cluster Development Boards with oil companies and security agencies at the Government House Port Harcourt, Wike directed the immediate revival of the State Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards.
He regretted that most problems in the Niger Delta are caused by oil companies who patronize and engage with criminal elements to the disadvantage of the host communities.
According to him, “I will not support any company not to carry out their corporate social responsibilities to their host communities.
“However, communities must not take laws into their hands. They must not stop production by the operating companies. Such actions will negatively affect the finances of the Federal Government, the state and the local government areas.”
The governor emphasized that in cases where companies fail to act within the expectations of the communities, the State Government will mediate through the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards.
Governor Wike said that the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards will have the Permanent Secretary, Community Development, Security Agencies, Community Development Clusters and oil companies as members.
He said the committee will meet at regular intervals to address ensuing challenges, in order to forestall the escalation of conflicts.
“It is important that we do not allow a crisis to occur in the communities. The Eroton rig in one community was seized. That rig should be allowed to work. I called this meeting because of the concerns raised by the operating oil companies in the area,” the governor said.
Also, a former Commissioner of Environment in the state, Mr. Samuel Horsfall, alleged that the oil companies know the right to do, but they (oil firms) will never take the right steps.
Horsfall said that the oil companies even refuse to recognize Council Chairmen, who are the direct links to the respective communities.
The Managing Director of Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited, Mr. Ebiaho Emafo, said it was not right for host communities to stop the operations of oil companies operating in their domain.
Emafo said that the company has spent about N3billion on community development, lamenting that the company was struggling to make ends meet.