Heavens will fall if… – former staff threatens Chevron

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Mr. Blessing Poweide

…He is not our employee – Chevron

By Isaac Olamikan

Blessing Powede, a former contract staff of Chevron Nigeria Limited, has threatened to let the heavens fall if he is not well treated by the multi-national oil company.

After what he perceives as an unjust treatment meted out on him by the company, Powede, who hails from Benikrukru community in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, cried out in agony to the oil giant to settle all outstanding payments due him or else he would cause the Heavens to fall.

Mr. Powede, a former staff of Weco Engineering and Construction Company operating at Abiteye flow station and trained as a senior oil well facility operator, said his ordeal with Chevron started about 17 years ago when he took a risk for the company by exposing certain individuals who stole sums of money (above six million naira) meant for staff salaries.

According to him, his actions of uncovering the culprits put his life and job in danger, to which the company promised that he would be converted from contract staff to Chevron full time staff after undergoing some field works for a specified time frame at its eastern operations in Rivers state, but which till date has not been done by Chevron.

Narrating his bitter ordeal, he said, “about 17 years ago, I took a risk for Chevron Nigeria Limited by trying to be a Good Samaritan but the company is paying me back with evil. It occurred on September 9, 1999. I was working with Weco Engineering and Construction Company at Abiteye. They flew in our salaries from Warri. When the chopper arrived with the money, it was too late that day so they couldn’t pay us. The next morning on resumption, we were told some persons had carted away the money meant for our salaries.

“My instinct was telling me to go and look at the place the culprits vandalized. On getting there, I saw a Walkie Talkie radio and a purse on the ground. When I picked them up, behold it was someone well known to me, a colleague’s ID card that was inside the purse. I was taken to the then Field Supervisor, Rocky, a white man. I said I will not give them the ID card unless Chevron tells me what it would do for me as I may lose my life and my job.”

According to him, the then Chairman and Public Relations Officer of Benikrukru community, Dickson Sindiapou and Godspower Gbenekama, respectively, could attest to his claim as they were summoned for a negotiation on his behalf after which the company verbally promised to retain him but failed to do so, claiming that rather than fulfill the promise, he was demoted and underpaid.

“When the conversion opportunity came, the community wrote to Chevron and they did not honour it. Instead, from the regular contract staff I was demoted to consolidated salary staff – pay as you work. This happened 2012. After some years, in 2016, they sold their operational field; there was no formal agreement between Chevron and the new company to absorb me.”

Continuing, he stated: “Recently, this issue came up in the palace of the Agadagba, Aketekpe, Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom when Chevron came to visit in June this year and they promised that they are going to do something. It is going to five months now and nothing has been done.”

He therefore urged Chevron to either honour its agreement as well as pay him the shortfalls arising from his pay-off, which runs above N20million, as he his frustrated and likely to take some drastic measures against the oil company.

“I am telling you all these to justify my anger on why I am angry with Chevron. The pay-off that they were supposed to pay me in 2012 was not paid. Chevron short paid me. Later, the issue was discovered and labour has been discussing with Chevron and they said they will pay us. They should pay me my money.

“Moreover, those guys sent to jail, if they see me, they are laughing at me. I have written several letters to Chevron, no response; I have all the documents with me. I think enough is enough. It is time for me to take the bull by the horn. Chevron should pay me. I can’t force them to employ me but that my money that is with them, they should pay me else I will cause the Heaven to fall. I mean what I am saying,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, responding to the petition, Esimaje Brikinn, the General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs of Chevron Nigeria Limited, stated: “As rightly noted, Mr. Blessing Powede, was not an employee of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), and any enquiry regarding his employment should be addressed to his employer.”