Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The people of Nembe-Bassambiri in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have served quit notice to AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Limited over the operations of Oil Mining License (OML) 29.
The community, in a world press conference addressed on Saturday at the community town hall by the Chairman Council of Chiefs, Chief Oriaingo Ekpeleyai Oruwari, the quit notice became necessary following national economic sabotage, strangulation of host communities, ecological destruction, contract racketing and corporate wickedness.
Oruwari who noted that Aiteo was imposed on the community by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said its operations have destroyed the community.
The spokesman of the community while stating that the situation had become unbearable through these years and worst in recent months forcing community women and youths to peacefully occupy the Sancta Barbara Flow Station and the Odeama Field-Flow Station in protest on Wednesday, November 11, expressed disappointment that regulatory agencies have abandoned the people with their lackadaisical attitude.
According to him the community leadership frustrated by the suffering of the people are in tandem with the protesting women and youths to demand the company quit their land.
He listed strangulation of the overstretched subsistence economy of the community by owning community members, oil pipeline surveillance contractors, food vendors, employment of a negligible number of community people, and massive prolonged oil spillages due to hazardous oilfield practice as sins of the company adding that the people can no longer bear the pains being inflicted on them.
In a communiqué signed by Oruwari and the secretary of the council of Chiefs, Chief Ivory Fikoru, the community, therefore, demanded a new operator to manage OML 29 to benefit the community and its people.
The communiqué read in part: ‘The Federal Government-owned Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) should take over the operations of OML 29 pending when a new, competent and community-friendly operator takes over.
‘That any purported renewal of the lease after 30th of June 2019 when the present lease expired is invalid and as such Aiteo became a trespasser and persona non grata in the Opu Nembe domain and will therefore not be accorded any social license op operate going forward.
‘The Government and other accountability watchdogs, local and international, should thoroughly investigate allegations of economic sabotage. We note with interest Mr President recent revocation of six oil licenses for non-payment to the Federal Government being against the national interest and we draw parallels with OML 29 vis-a-vis both host communities and national interests. The new operator should renegotiate lease terms for community land required for operations and terms for community content/participation, environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
‘We hereby put Aiteo, the Nigerian government, Bayelsa State government and the world on notice for the survival and protection of the Opu Nembe(Nembe Bassambiri) Kingdom.’