From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has clarified that its stance of being involved in the preparation of Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoUs) of the Brass Fertilizer project is to protect the interest of communities that enter into such agreements with corporate organisations operating in the state.
The state Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who made the clarification during a meeting with traditional rulers from Brass Local Government Area in his office in Yenagoa, assured that the state government would do everything within its power to ensure the successful implementation of the agreement between the Brass Fertilizer Company and the people of Brass.
According to him, the government’s intervention in the contract is to protect the people from being short-changed rather than scuttle the take-off of the project as is being speculated on social media.
Ewhrudjakpo, in a press statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, reminded the people that conflicts in most communities were traceable to oil companies’ failure to honour Memoranda of Understanding with their host communities.
Accordingly, he said henceforth all such MoUs must be signed with the involvement of the state government in order to avert situations where a company would renege on its agreements and promote peace in the communities.
‘Now on the issue of companies not recognising communities, there is a rule/law that states that if you are not a party to an agreement, you cannot acquire right and incur liability,’ the deputy governor said in the statement.
‘If there is an agreement and there is no third party that witnessed the agreement, it becomes a problem, because when they (companies) overwhelm you, there is nothing you can do.
‘So, what government is trying to do is to put an eye and watch and not that it wants to take over the running of MoUs.
‘Rather, government wants to ensure that if a company is coming to operate, for example, in Twon-Brass, we must know what the company is coming to do there and content of the agreement they sign with the community.
‘The government is not scuttling your MoU with companies. If government is in the know of what you have signed with them, it can then force the companies to implement what they have agreed to do.’
While also highlighting the role of the traditional institution in society, Ewhrudjakpo urged native rulers, local government council chairmen and other community leaders to step up efforts at assisting security personnel by profiling visitors to various communities in the state.
Deputy Governor Ewhrudjakpo also expressed displeasure over the inability of local government council chairmen to meet monthly with other stakeholders in their areas as directed by the state government.
In their separate remarks, member representing Brass Constituency Two and Minority Whip in the State House of Assembly, Hon Omubo Agala and Dr Charles Daniel representing Brass Constituency One, commended the Douye Diri administration for taking a bold step in protecting the overall interest of Brass people in the Brass Fertilizer project.