From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
There is tension in Twon Brass Kingdom, Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, as women and youths barricaded the gate of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) over a prolonged power outage in the Island.
The largest Agip Oil facility in Nigeria, the Brass Terminal, which is the core of its operations in the country, is located in Twon Brass.
Twon Brass Kingdom is made up of Ada-Ama, Cameroun Ama, Sambo-Ama, Shidi-Ama, Kemmer Town, Imbikiri as well as Brass Gate which host NOAC.
For some months now, NAOC has been rationing electricity supply between Town Brass and Okpoama Kingdoms, a development which has not go down well with the people.
According to reports, after several appeals to Agip to rectify the situation, the people had remained patient, believing that Agip would listen to their pleas to restore the power situation.
However, irked by the seeming lack of action by the oil company, particularly with the complete shutdown of the power supply since May 7, women and youths armed with placards with inscription such as “Enough is Enough with Brass Blackout”, “NAOC Give Us Light”, “NAOC Pay Community workers”, stormed the Agip facility on Friday, disrupting the operations of the company.
The protesting women and youths made it clear that the action of NAOC has paralyzed business activities which had affected their means of livelihood and plunged the kingdom into darkness.
The protesters directed that no shop, beer parlours, markets and other business ventures should be opened, placing a fine on any business venture that defies the directive.
The former Vice Chairman of Twon-Brass Council of Chiefs, Chief BT Williams, told me that he was in support of the protest to register their grievances to NAOC’S nonchalant attitude.
Chief Williams, who incidentally is the chairman of Light Committee in Twon, made it clear that the kingdom had written several letters to NAOC to rectify the power supply instead of rationing.
He argued that it was quite unfortunate that the authorities of the oil company had failed to meet their responsibility of restoring power supply to the Kingdom which has been enjoying twenty-four hours power supply.
Hon Charles Daniel, the lawmaker representing Brass Constituency 1 in the Bayelsa House of Assembly, explained that he decided to visit the constituency to pay solidarity to the people of Twon-Brass.
The protesters, who continued their protest on Saturday, vowed not to leave the Agip gate until thier grievances are addressed.
Efforts to get an official reaction from Agip were unsuccessful as the Security Manger did not respond to calls.
However, an official of the company, who pleaded anonymity because he is not authorised to speak, said the oil company has sent word to the protesters to send a delegation of 20 youths to the company for the commencement of the installation of new cables.