Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Hundreds of irate youths from Ijaw, Isoko, Itsekiri and Urhobo ethnic nationalities of Delta State on Wednesday blocked the Government House gate, Asaba in protest over alleged hijacked of oil surveillance contract of the Trans-Forcados Pipeline (TFP) by the management of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited in connivance with some forces at the presidency.
This is the second time in a month that the angry youths and ex-agitators who are from 111 communities and hosts to Oil Mineral License (OML) 30 facilities are staging the protest against Ocean Marine.
During Wednesday’s protest, activities at the Government House were temporary halted as the placard bearing protesters formed a human barricade that prevented vehicle movement for several hours as they waited for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who was at a security council meeting to come and address them.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Lord Tennyson Oriunu accused the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru of allegedly conniving with Ocean Marine to hijack the surveillance contract for Trans-Forcados Pipeline.
He said the owner of Ocean Marine, Hosa Okunbor had been awarded other surveillance contracts in the Niger Delta region which he claimed were not performing, adding that production has been seamless without any incident of oil theft while the surveillance contract for TFP was under the watch of locals.
Oriunu alleged that the Baru/Okunbor alliance is currently posing economic danger in Delta State, noting that discontent has started manifesting in the communities as well as division between traditional authorities and community leaderships.
He informed Governor Okowa that plans have been concluded to award the surveillance contract for TFP to Ocean Marine today (Thursday) in Abuja despite their protests, warning that they will not hesitate to return to the creeks if the job is taken away from them.
“Sir, we have come to you as our father, leader and governor to complain about a clear threat to peace of our communities. We want you to intervene before things go out of hand.
“We humbly request you to use your good offices to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to cause an investigation into this unholy alliance between Baru and Okunbor.
“Why is the NNPC GMD piling multiple multi-million dollar contracts to someone that has shown incompetence in the contracts previously awarded to him? Why is he re-awarding a contract that has been excellently executed so far at a competitive rate to Okunbor at an over-inflated rate and why did the contract ignore due process and transparency?” he wondered.
Responding, Governor Okowa thanked the protesters for their peaceful disposition, and condemned any action that seeks to take surveillance jobs from locals, noting that it is capable of causing unrest in oil bearing communities.
Insisting that inflation of surveillance contracts, and any action that will lead to disruption of oil production is economic sabotage, Okowa promised to take the message of the protesters, in writing, to President Buhari, Minister of State for Petroleum and the Chief of Staff.