The people of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State have said that ignoring Gbaramatu oil and gas host communities (to Chevron Nigeria Limited) by Chevron in their present negotiations with their Ugborodo neighbours could triger problem if not nipped on the bud now.
It was the spokesperson for the kingdom, High Chief Godspower Gbenekama (JP), who made this known recently in a statement made available to GbaramatuVoice.
He accused CNL and NNPC joint partners of using NAPIMS as an excuse for undoing host communities in the area of empowerment.
Gbenekama advised the oil giant, NNPC, and government, not to encourage ‘divide and rule’ tactics in their handling of host communities in their areas of operation as Ugborodo and Gbaramatu Kingdom occupy the same terrain in the Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta state.
The spokesperson added that the areas affected also face the same neglect in the hands of the company, NNPC and by extension, government.
He, therefore, wondered why the Gbaramatu people should be neglected in the ongoing dialogue with their neighbours.
He said Ijaws of Gbaramatu Kingdom have been suffering the same fate as the Ugborodo people (if not more) as such should be brought on the front burner in the ongoing discussions.
He urged government not to wait for protest or occupying of flowstations by host communities before they will listen to host communities (in order not to make it a norm to achieve their aims and demands).
The great Gbaramatu Kingdom spokesman quipped that whatever discussions Chevron and government want to discuss with their Ugborodo neighbours, Ijaw communities hosting CNL operations should be carried along, adding that both the ijaws of Gbaramatu and Egbema are host communities to Chevron and are in the same terrain, therefore they should not be neglected.
He pointed out that Gbaramatu people were not afraid of occupying flow stations if that was what the government wanted, before they would attend to their demands which they had presented to Chevron several times even in the Lagos office of Chevron and the Gbaramatu Kingdom Palace at Oporoza, without attention or call for dialogue.
He stated further that the Pere of the great Gbaramatu Kingdom, HRM Oboro Gbaraun 11 had continually appealed to his subjects not to embark on protests, urging them to remain peaceful and wait for government and Chevron to call for round table dialogue which had never become a reality.
The Gbaramatu Spokesman posited that Ijaws of Gbaramatu and Egbema kingdoms were mostly marginalized by Chevron especially in the area of employment.
He said their Itsekiri brothers are better off in that area than the Ijaws, stressing that Ijaws of Gbaramatu who play host to three major flow stations of CNL, (Abiteye flowstation, Makaraba flowstation and Utunana flowstation) were sidelined in top management staff in Chevron, both in Lagos, Warri and Escravos terminal operations of CNL.
According to him; “Ijaw people had every reason to protest because they were more at the receiving end of the CNL and NNPC injustices meted on the host communities.
“In the area of development, such as electricity, communities that were host to Chevron in Gbaramatu Kingdom were never listened to. For instance, Kokodiagbene community which is the host to the Utunana flowstation had been begging to be given power (electricity) but Chevron and NNPC had been paying deaf hears to them for over twenty years now.
He also said, Benikrukru community is submerged in water whenever there was high tide due to exploration activities by the oil giant, yet it had paid deaf ears to the community for over thirty years now.
“Chevron does not have regard for the traditional institutions in their areas of operation as it had never met any of the demands of the kings in their areas of operation.
Chief Gbenekama commended Ugborodo communities for their dogged effort, coming together to protest against injustice meted to hosts communities by Chevron.
The Fiyewei commended the newly elected Federal House of Representatives member for speaking out in defence of host communities but advised him to ensure that he represents the interests of all members of his constituency, both Ijaws and Itsekiris, in the ongoing discussions.
“He should ensure that Ijaws are also invited to the table of discussion.
He also thanked the Austin Obiregbeyi-led administration and the Chief Ayiri Emami who represented the Palace for managing the protest in a peaceful manner and attracting the attention of government to the plight of the host communities, saying Gbaramatu Kingdom is solidly behind them in the protest and assured of supporting them in the struggle wherever and whenever the need arise.
Gbenekama commended the Delta State Government for its intervention but advised that government should not wait until host communities occupy oil installations before intervening, but must be proactive to its citizens cry. Doing otherwise would be an invitation to anarchy.
He also appealed that an holistic approach be taken on the issues at stake, handling one section and waiting for the other community to protest before intervening, would be an invitation to problems.
He said the Senator Okowa-led administration should ensure that the right thing is done by including the Gbaramatu Ijaws in the ongoing parley to avert further occupation of oil installations by the Ijaw people who suffer the same fate with their Itsekiri brothers.