From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has accused multinational oil companies, particularly Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), of initiating deliberate policies and programmes to short-change oil-bearing communities.
This government also condemned in strong terms the recent criminal attack on Amabulou community over community leadership elections that led to the death of one Mr Omolojo Etolor.
Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo issued the condemnation at a meeting with concerned members of the Amabulou community of Ekeremor Local Government Area in Government House, Yenagoa.
Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, noted that the cluster board programme being run by Shell was causing more harm than good to the people and state governments in the Niger Delta region.
He pointed out that the primary duty of every government is to protect lives and property, and that the Diri administration would not hesitate to address any issue or situation threatening peace and security in the state.
The deputy governor said the SPDC and other oil companies have not shown genuine interest in the development of the Niger Delta, but have designed policies and programmes that cause disaffection amongst its people.
According to him, the state government is worried about the insecurity associated with SPDC’s cluster boards in most communities and will soon take measures to address it in a comprehensive manner.
‘Shell has not been fair in their dealings with the people of the Niger Delta. Whether you look at it from the economic, social and development points of view, you will find out that they (oil companies) have failed in their responsibility,’ the deputy governor stated.
‘It has always been a tale of woes with Shell. Look at what they are doing to our people with their cluster board programme, causing problems in our communities. So the State Executive Council is worried.
‘If Shell was responsible and responsive enough in discharging their duties, we will not have some of the military men permanently in our creeks. They always design programmes that will serve their ends to our own detriment.
‘As a government, we are seriously looking at this issue at the State Executive Council meetings. But I won’t be able to tell you today, the prescription the state government has up its sleeves for this reckless show of irresponsibility,’ he said.
Commenting on the Amabulou incident, Ewhrudjakpo assured that government would leave no stone unturned in its determination to bring to justice all those who played a role in the killing of Mr Etolor.
While consoling the Etolor family, Ewhrudjakpo restated the present administration’s zero-tolerance stance on criminality and warned youths not to allow anybody to deceive them with any assurance of invincibility to commit crimes.