Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Otor-Udu community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State on Sunday threatened to shut down the operations of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The community is peeved by alleged total neglect in terms of provision of basic amenities and infrastructures by the company which has been carrying out oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the area for about 30 years.
As a result, the community through its spokesman (Otota) of Udu Traditional Council, Chief Sam Odibo, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the company to begin to address the social and employment needs of the people or faced being shut down.
The statement reads in parts: “It is about 30 years since your NPDC commenced oil and gas exploration and exploitation in Udu kingdom and the company is presently operating eight oil wells in Emadadja community, two oil wells in Ubogo, one in Oghior, five in Ukpiovwin, and three in Otor-Udu, making it a total of 18 oil wells.
“Another two new oil wells are being drilled to bring the total number of oil wells to 21. Over and above these, the same NPDC is operating two gas wells in Ukpiovwin and 11 gas wells in Otor-Udu, making it a total of 13 gas wells. And of the wells in Ukpiovwin, gas well number 12, is the largest producer of gas in the whole of West Africa.
“The federal character principle was adopted in the early 1980s while the Nigerian local content policy followed later, but of all the numerous oil and gas wells, NPDC has not even one indigene (boy or girl, man or woman) on its payroll.
“NPDC has been convenient, and has continued to adduce reasons upon excuses, and had fabricated one excuse or the other fettering their hands, stating why it has become impossible for any institution, including Udu traditional council, to convince aggrieved indigenes about this monumental neglect and obnoxious posture of the company.
“Our patience which has continued to be battered and bruised for the past 30 years has finally been crushed and expiated, so if within 14 days of this report, NPDC is unable to show both God and man (Udu and the world) a list of Udu indigenes in NPDC’s pensionable staff, we shall stop all their operations in Udu kingdom/communities.
“They ought to know, as a responsible company, their responsibilities to the communities in their area of operation. Over the years, there have been several failed attempts at getting their establishment to manifest their natural obligations, either by way of federal character or local content policy or both and more.
“Over the years, our oil and gas are piped away without any records. For nearly 10 years now, your proposal to build a flow station in the Abura field in Udu LGA has been on the drawing board stage, to the extent that Udu has hardly been known to be oil-producing.
“This has had its ripple effects on the kingdom. For instance, we have not been given our due at the DESOPADEC because the quantum of oil and gas Udu produces is not known. We demand the immediate commencement of the construction of the flow station.
“We do not need to expend further energy in expounding other failed/neglected/ignored social corporate responsibilities.
“The palace has over this period been in its temporary site. We believe you can construct a befitting palace at Otor-Udu and relocate our monarch to Udu traditional headquarters.”