•To paralyse the nation’s economy soon, if…
•We are not disputing issues raised by the community – Shell
•Reconciliation meeting must hold in Ogulagha, not PH – Hon. Pondi
•Shell must do the needful- Hon. Abonta
The Ogulagha Kingdom Youth Council, OKYC, in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State has threatened to disrupt all Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) flow stations located in the community and environs.
The leaders of Ogulagha youths made this known to GbaramatuVoice shortly after having an audience with the House of Representatives members on Wednesday, October 25, 2017.
A meeting which our correspondent learned was called at their instance to help find a lasting solution to the frosty relationship between the oil giant and the host community.
Speaking through Comr. Justice Timiadi Akuna, Spokesperson, at the Public Sitting of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petition, the community painted a picture of what it called “pains, environmental degradation and total neglect” by the transnational oil corporation.
Chronicling their grouse againt SPDC, the community complained that SPDC had left them out of training schemes and were sidelined while people from other parts of the country benefited from the projects.
OKYC further told the Honourable Members that the SPDC has no deliberate employment plan for youths of Ogulagha Kingdom.
In his words, “From inception till date, SPDC refused to have a clearly defined employment plan to curb the ravaging unemployment menace in the Kingdom as most of our qualified sons and daughters that would have been employed have been systematically thrown out due to lack of proper framework.”
In the same vein, Comr. Shedrack Lucky Agediga, the immediate past president of the group took the Honourable Members of the House down memory lane. He claimed that the first Ogulagha indigene to be employed was in 1980, twelve years after oil production began in the community, and that the next person employed was in 1998.
Comr. Shedrack further argued that it is very sad and incredible to hear that Forcados Terminal that has been in existence for over 46 years does not have one person from the Kingdom as a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) or Community Relations Officer (CRO).
The above, he emphatically stated, cannot happen in any other oil producing community or kingdom in this country.
OKYC former president stressed that it was after series of agitations, from 2007 to 2008, that the SPDC agreed to absorb eighteen qualified youths from the Kingdom in their training programme with the promise that they will be employed if they successfully complete the training.
He therefore pointed out that while sixteen of the eighteen youths passed the training programme with distinction, only three of them were employed as direct junior staff while the other thirteen were placed in different categories as casual workers.
On his own part, Comr. Dose Mienkiriya, the Secretary-General of the group claimed that while the community protected the oil facilities during the armed militancy in the Niger Delta, SPDC “relegated all Ogulagha kingdom contractors to grass cutting, housekeeping, toilet washing and all kinds of dehumanizing contracts” while outsiders were rewarded with juicy contracts.
At stake, if not resolved amicably within time, are the Forcados Oil Terminal (Tank Farm), the Forcados Crude Loading Platform( CLP), the South Bank Flowstation, and the North Bank Flowstation.
Other oil facilities in the area are the Yokiri Flowstation, Yokiri Gas Lift Station, the Estuary Production Platform, the Forcados-Yokiri Integrated Gas gathering facility in north bank, the Afremo A Production Platform, the Afremo B Production Platform, the .54 Clusters of Oil and Gas Wells (each cluster bearing 2 or more oil wells) and the Forcados Terminal Gas Plant for power generation.
To proof the pivotal role the community is playing in sustaining the nations ecomy, they stated that about 260,000 barrels of oil per day, which represents approximately fifteen (15) percent of the 1.8m barrels of the country’s daily oil output is from their community.
Continuing, the group also claimed that a good portion of the 4mscf of gas produced daily is been flared through six flare points within the Kingdom, while a small volume is harnessed to generate electricity in Forcados Terminal.
On the way forward, the Ogulagha Kingdom Youth Council made the following demands; fifty percent of the Forcados offshore oil facility surveillance vessels contract.
Again, the community requested for engagement, four Community Relations staff in Forcados Terminal. “SPDC should train some Ogulagha youths in the FYIP gas gathering facility in the Kingdom as part of the condtion for reaching a truce.
“SPDC should immediately engage the outstanding thirteen trainees as staff; recall all Ogulagha Kingdom persons sacked due to SPDC asset divestment, the group added.
They fnally asked as a condition for the conversion of all Ogulagha graduates who are currently on contract into permanent staff, and henceforth, Ogulagha indegenes be given first consideration for any project/contract to be executed in the Kingdom.
Responding, the SPDC Government Integration Manager, Mr. Abubakar Ahmed who represented the company said Shell has heard the complaints of the Ogulagha people, that the company is not disputing the issues presented by the community and that Shell will look into all issues raised.
He promised that Shell will engage the community in further dialogue. He said most of the projects in the host community are based on contracts and that the company will have to investigate complaints about abandoned projects in the community.
In his reaction, Hon Julius Pondi, the Member Representing the Burutu Constituency which includes Ogulagha Kingdom said that the promise of Shell that it will verify the projects in Ogulagha is an old one and urged the company to act immediately.
The Honourable further rejected the offer of Shell to host a meeting with the community leaders in Port Harcourt, insisting that such a meeting should be held in the community.
While wrapping up the meeting, the Chairman of the House Petitions Committee, Honourable Uzoma Nkem Abonta advised Shell to treat the issues raised by the community with all seriousness adding that if Shell meets its basic obligations to its host community, all sides will be at peace.
He therefore adjourned further sitting on the issue until December 6, 2017 with the hope that Shell would have done the needful in the community.