Youths in Akwa Ibom State, weekend, continued their protest over alleged refusal by Exxon-Mobil to relocate its headquarters to the state, disrupting socio-economic activities at Ibeno, the operational base of the company.
The youths, under the umbrella of Ibeno Youth Presidents’ Forum, Ulok Ulok People’s Assembly and Ibeno Chapter of Ijaw Youth Council, barricaded the Mobil base, demanding immediate relocation of the corporate headquarters of the company to the state.
Their action follows the Federal Government’s directive during peace tour of the Niger Delta region by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo last month that oil multinationals operating in the region should move their head offices to where their operations are taking place.
The protesters, who gathered at Mobil’s gate to register their complaint with the new Managing Director, Mr Paul McGrath, during his facility tour to the company, warned that refusal by the company to carry out the directive of the Federal Government might draw their wrath.
The youths, who carried placards with inscriptions, “Exxon-Mobil, don’t take Akwa Ibom people for granted,” “Exxon-Mobil, respect the directive of Mr President and relocate your headquarters to Akwa Ibom State,” “Exxon-Mobil, youths are the leaders of tomorrow, empower them and improve their welfare,” among others, said their protest was not meant to distract their visitor but, an opportunity to drive home their demand.
Youth Co-ordinator, Mr Samuel Etoekere, told newsmen that the peaceful demonstration was to welcome the new Managing Director of Exxon-Mobil, McGrath to the state, with the hope that his coming will bring positive changes to the state.
According to him, “Exxon-Mobil should do what the Federal Government had directed them to do, by relocating their headquarters to Akwa Ibom, instead of putting up their deviant attitude which always bring problem.”
The Ibeno Chapter Chairman of Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Mr Robert Ekpadibe also corroborated Mr Etoekere’s position, expressing the hope that, Mr McGrath’s appointment as the new MD of Exxon-Mobil will enhance community relations and compliance to the directive of the Federal Government, regarding the relocation of its corporate headquarters to Akwa Ibom.
Manager, Public and Government Affairs, MPN, Mrs Regina Udobong and the Manager, Media and Communications, Mr Oge Udeagha declined to comment on the matter.
The Vice-President, it will be recalled had urged the Minister of State, Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu during the visit to begin the process of engaging the International Oil Companies, IOCs, on the way forward to actualize the directive.