The people of Egbema kingdom in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State have given a seventy-two-hour ultimatum to Nigerian Agip Oil Company to implement its 1999 Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, or face the anger of the communities.
This was one of the highlights of a town hall meeting of the Egbema Youth Association, led by the secretary-general, Apostle Nnamdi Ijeoma, held at the weekend.
In an interaction with journalists, Ijeoma said Agip had refused to acknowledge its series of letters on the matter, stressing that the Egbema people would not back down until their demands were met.
“Agip is playing politics with this project. Today Egbema Central leadership, comprising the Zonal Youths associations, the Eze-Obi Council in Egbema Rivers State have issued an ultimatum to the Nigeria Agip Oil Company.
“Where Agip fails to comply with engagements, so that this project can be completely awarded for proper execution within 72 hours, we will swing into action to stop Agip in every way possible.
“But, we assure you that we will follow peaceful means and we will also not back down,” he said.
Eze Kingsley Obiye, Chairman of Council of Chiefs, said any meeting with Agip should be held at the palace of Nze-Obi of Egbema, accusing the oil multinational of working with unnamed persons against the Egbema people.
“The Egbema youths in conjunction with the Eze Obi Council held a press conference in respect of the 1999 MOU with Agip which they have not implemented, and today we have given them 72 hours to do it or they will face Egbema youths because we know that the project has taken long.”
He stressed that the company was “supposed to have done it and go to another phase and yet we do not know what the matter between them is but our oil is running every day without respect and regard.
“Also, we want them to meet with us at our majesty’s house not in Agip or in Port Harcourt because other traditional rulers hold meetings with them in their majesty’s palace,” he said.
In a reaction, the paramount ruler of Egbema ethnic nationality, His Royal Majesty, King Ginikanwa Amuda said he had the support of the youths of Egbema, adding that “instead of Agip to do things that can benefit the masses and create jobs for the teaming population of our youths, Agip will go and pick one of two and keep them to sit on Egbema’s wealth.
“These young men you see crying out today are telling the Rivers State Government, headed by Chief Nyesom Wike, and the Federal Government of Nigeria to intervene into our matter with Agip because that could be ‘a stitch in time.”
The royal father frowned at those who might decide to see the protesting youths as hoodlums, adding that “there is no bad person amongst them. They are professionals in different fields who have made names in their various careers.”