By Jeany Metta-Angoye
Yenagao- Following the ongoing face-off between Shell Petroleum Development Company and Ogboloma Community one of its host communities in Yenagoa local government area, Bayelsa State, over differences that led to youths of the community seizing four drum-laden loads of chemicals belonging to the company, settlement of the crisis appear to be nowhere in sight even as the state government pronounced a 24 hours ultimatum for the youths to release the vehicles to SPDC.
Speaking to our correspondent over the issue, Mr Josiah Inebaraton, the community’s Youth President remarked that their present action which is devoid of violence was as a result of SPDC’s insensitiveness to the plight of the community and its people since it commenced operation on their land four decades ago.
“ Ogboloma since 1972 when SPDC began operation, has never benefitted anything from the company. No scholarships, no job for anyone from here either as a junior or senior staff. In short, no form of Corporate Social Responsibility on the part of the company to make the community feel appreciate for all these years we have been cooperating with them, helping to keep the company’s infrastructure safe and secure unlike in other places where vandalization and bunkering is the order of the day.”
“SPDC, ” he continued, “seem to have taken our cooperation and patience for granted hence this peaceful protest for them to do the needful” which as he explained, “ is for the company to provide us with electricity for now”.
Speaking in the same vein, Lucky Bernard Warikoru, Chairman Community Development Committee –CDC, frowned at the manner SPDC, using the Bayelsa State government, in pursuing the matter.
“Prior to our embarking on this peaceful protest and barring of SPDC vehicles and equipment access through our community, we had forewarned Management of the company that we shall be doing that if our simple request to be connected direct to the company’s manifold so that Ogboloma too can enjoy light like Obunagha, Gbarantoru- sister host communities of SPDC that are enjoying electricity”
According to the two leaders, SPDC’s management appears not disposed to treat Ogboloma better- a community whose land, river and creeks which it has polluted with its crisscrossing oil and gas pipelines that has deprived the people the privilege to fish and farm on their property as they used to, before the advent of SPDC’s oil exploration activities in the community.
Frowning at the ultimatum given by the state government through the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Oil\Gas Bunny Ayah for the protesting youths to release the trucks seized by the protesters, the people say the vehicles would not be released, neither would the blockade against SPDC vehicles be lifted unless the company commits itself to the demand of the community which for now, is to give them electricity.
SPDC, it could be recalled, has its investment in Ogboloma, three Manifolds, each with a 400kv capacity, one flow station at Etelebu, 15 oil wells amongst a myriad of oil\gas pipelines that makes the community appear to be sitting on tons of gunpowder and invariably risks being obliterated from the face of the earth should an explosion from any of the crisscrossing oil\gas pipelines ever occur.
The Bayelsa Command of the Nigerian Police with the prompting of SPDC, we gather, is mounting pressure on the protesters to release the impounded trucks.