Mkpoikana Udoma 31 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Youths of Bakana in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State barricaded the entrance of the Port Harcourt office of Eroton Exploration and Production Limited, over what they described as injustice against the host community.
Youths barricade Eroton Oil in Rivers over alleged marginalisation, others
Recall that Degema is one of the DAA3 OML18 cluster board which was funded by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, until the company divested and sold off its investment to Eroton in 2015. DAA3 is made up of the three Kalabari speaking local government areas in the state, namely Degema, Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru.
The Kalabari youths on a peaceful protest with placards and local gongs said the blockade was imperative in order to address some of the issues affecting the host community before things get out hands.
Some of the inscriptions on placards carried by the youths read, “Eroton stop fraud in DAA3, we request detail of the signed GMOU”, “we demand immediate financial audit of DAA3 administrative account”, “Be more responsible to us, give us our own quota of contract,” amongst others.
An ex-agitator and leader of the protest who identified himself as Comrade Sobaasua, said they have written series of letter to the company to ensure that their grievances against the company were amicably addressed without violence or legal action against the company.
Sobaasua who is also the Chairman of Ijaw Youth Council in Bakana, accused the company of sidelining the host community and preferring to deal with certain elements in the community, whom he accused of taking what should have gone to the people of the community.
He warned that the youths in the area have all it takes to stop the operations of Eroton in their community, but noted that as peace loving youths they were ready for dialogue except the company did not want dialogue.
“We are here on a peaceful protest, all we are demanding is for Eroton to give us financial autonomy. Bakana is the host community I don’t see any reason why something that is meant for the community will be channelled to a person.
“We want our youths be employed. Our problem is that the company is aware of this injustice, there are absent of basic amenities in the community, if you come to Bakana you would not believe what your eyes would see because there is no sign of development.
“Yet there are many benefits that are being given to the community but it is not reaching the community.”
For his part, the Secretary, Community Development Committee of Bakana, Mr. Gogo Abite, explained that the community wants the company to deal directly with them in order to get what belong to the community without it going through third parties.