John ODHE, Yenagoa
The people of Okoroma Clan in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have given a 14-day ultimatum to a multinational firm, Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), to refrain from awarding contracts belonging to them to others in the state or have their activities shut down in the area.
Speaking through a socio-political group in the clan under the aegis of Okoroma Volunteers, the people said the 14-day ultimatum against NOAC took effect from April 16, 2020, noting that one of their grouse was the failure of the oil giant renew the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) it signed with them in 2006 that had expired in 2011.
Spokesman of the group, Mr. Ubani Godwin, said that since crude oil was discovered in the area, communities from the clan had been continuously denied the opportunity to benefit from oil and gas wellhead and pipeline surveillance contracts being awarded by Agip for over nine years.
The people further lamented that despite being the only clan that has Agip crude oil producing wells and flow stations in the entire Nembe LGA, men, women and youths of the area were not being considered for employment into the company since its crude oil exploitation operations in the area.
He lamented that Agip had continued to give their legal rights and benefits to some persons in neighbouring communities, thereby leaving them in total neglect.
Explaining further, Ubani alleged that anytime the people attempted to agitate against this ill-treatment, some few individuals would be used by Agip through divide-and-rule tactics to counter the people’s demands by blackmail of different types just to deny the development agenda of the clan.
His words: “the history of Okoroma Clan has it that Okoro, the first son of the founder of Ogbia Kingdom, is the founder of Okoroma Clan. And when Bayelsa was created, for administrative purposes, Okoroma Clan was attached to Nembe LGA.
“And today, we stand as the only Clan in Nembe LGA that is host to all Agip flow stations and oil producing wells but as we speak, the last time the company signed any Memorandum of Understanding with us was in 2006 which expired in 2011. And since then we have not had a new one.
“As we speak, other clans in Nembe LGA are benefitting from Agip’s oil and gas pipeline surveillance contract but in our own case, the contract of our Clan is awarded to persons from neighbouring Communities that are very close to the government, thereby leaving our men, women and youths unemployed.
“Another issue of concern is the fact that our slot for the crude oil well head security contracts that are usually awarded to oil company host Communities in Nembe have been given to outsiders who give selected persons from our Clan stipends to discourage any protest against this divide and rule attitude of Agip.
“To put the record straight at this point, in 2006 when we protested against Agip for failing to meet up with its corporate social responsibility just as they are doing today, they employed to services of military men who fired gunshots into the crowd of peaceful protesters, killing a young man named Erefagha Oyagiri.
“Our message to Agip this time is the fact that, we have resolved as a people that no number of military presence would deter us from shutting down the activities of Agip in our Communities at the expiration of our 14 days ultimatum to them. We promise them that if they try to stop us this time, they would have to kill all of us in the process.”