Edith CHUKU /
Gift BARIKWA, PH
Dismayed by the supposed marginalization of women in the on-going NLNG Train 7, women in the oil rich Niger Delta region have called for their inclusion, insisting that there will be no train 7 without women’s participation.
Dressed in an all-black attire with native George wrapper tied round the waist, the women in their hundreds lamented that they could not continue to endure being side-lined whenever developmental projects were being carried out in the region.
Speaking under the aegis of Niger Delta Activists Forum NDAF, the women who gathered at the Abuloma town hall, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State for a protest, took turns to express their grievances.
While chanting solidarity songs, they displayed placards with inscriptions such as “we are Niger Deltans too, don’t side-line us. “30 per cent contract quota for women in NLNG Train 7.
“We are not only meant for the kitchen and bed alone; we have brains. “We are tired of hookups, give us skills and contracts. “Side chicks are riding on horses, talented wives are wasting in firewood kitchen, we can do better. “Opportunity to a woman is a blessing to the entire society,” among several others.
Accompanied by the NDAF Rivers State Women Leader, Bridget Alalibo, national president of the Pan Niger Delta group, Sheila Abiye told TNN in an exclusive interview that the protest, though suspended, was to call on NLNG to “include women in their train 7, it’s all about the train 7 that has been on since 2017, we have kept quiet for a long time, it’s not favouring us at all, so, we decided, the Niger Delta women decided to carry out a protest.
“We are tired of sitting at home. NLNG Train 7 should profit us, they should employ us, they should employ our children, they should give us contract jobs, they should also organize skill acquisition for us, so that we will be resourceful, so our daughters who are qualified and duly trained can be positively productive, we are tired, we have to support the family and our children.
“Now, there is strike, our children are at home doing nothing, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, instrument for evil things, we just answer the name that we are from Niger Delta, oil producing zones, yet we are impoverished, suffering, we are not seeing the oil, we are not seeing the benefit, Niger Delta women are on their feet, we will not sleep nor continue to endure this marginalization again.”
Abiye explained that “the black is to show that we are mourning, we are not happy, Niger Delta women came out today to express our hurt, we are being cheated, marginalized, relegated, we are not happy, the wrapper is to display our identity that we are from Niger Delta, we are Niger Delta women.”
On why the protest was called off after over 300 women from various states of the region gathered with their placards at the venue, ready to hit the road to NLNG, the national president said “we were invited by the commissioner of police, they asked us why, we told them, although since on the 30th we had circulated letters to different places; the DSS, the police, the civil defence, the companies that are involved. So, we told them what we need, then the company, NLNG denied that they are not among the train 7, that the train 7 is for them but that they have sublet the contract to Saipem, Daewoo and all the rest, that they don’t have hands in it.
“I told them, you have given out the project, no problem, but who are the owners of the project? That is our main reason of coming here because it is you people that have the project, so if you really want us to partake, you have to tell those that you have given the contract to include women, give women contract, give them scholarship, organize skill acquisition for them.
“So, at the end, they assured us that they will contact Saipem for us. The security agencies said we should cease fire for now, the company said they will invite us on their own, that was it, so, we have also addressed our women of the outcome of the meeting.”