Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ijaw youths in six states of the Niger Delta region have threatened mass action against multinational and indigenous oil companies neglecting their host communities in the Niger Delta especially Ijaw oil-producing areas.
The youths drawn from Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom states under the auspices of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide pointed out that untold hardship and endemic poverty have been the lot of such communities despite living amidst crude oil installations, oil wells and pipelines.
The IYC threat which was contained in its new position paper entitled, “Our rules of engagement with multinationals, indigenous oil and companies” disclosed that it had decided to beam its searchlight on oil companies refusing to sign agreements with its host communities and those flouting terms in Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they reached with their hosts.
The IYC in the document dated September 24 and signed by its President, Timothy Igbifa, said it would go after oil and gas companies laying off their employees from Ijaw extraction despite the economic hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the group it was disturbed by the relationship existing between the Ogulagha Community in Burutu Local Government Area Of Delta State and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
The youths said the company had resorted to using retrenchment and downsizing as a tool of oppression against their brothers and sisters without minding the economic effects of their action amidst the COVID – 19 pandemic.
It also expressed worry over the situation in Gbaraun Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area Bayelsa State where the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) had refused to pay compensation for the devastating oil spillage that occurred in the areas as collectively agreed by all the parties.
IYC also identified Peretorugbene community of Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State as one of the communities suffering in the hands of oil companies
The document read in part “In contravention of the Nigerian Content Act and other legislations governing the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry, the Amni International Petroleum Development Company Ltd. has continued to act against their host communities in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State and same apply to Conoil Production in the Eastern Obolo.
“Exxon Mobil Unlimited and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd have also not lived up to the expectations of their host communities especially in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
“In fact, we are disturbed by the lack of basic amenities in Bukuma community in Degema Local Government Area. The communities play host to major oil and gas companies and facilities such as the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG).
“In spite of these major oil and gas explorative activities that go on in this community and other surrounding communities; there is no access road connecting other communities within the area. They don’t have portable water to drink, no electricity, no health facility and other life-supporting infrastructure”.
The group which said it would no longer tolerate actions of oil call on SPDC to immediately rescind decision to disengage the services of the youths of Ogulagha community.