From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Eight communities in Rivers State picketed the offices of the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Ltd (NDPR) Monday over the alleged firing of top management staff of the firm and the failure of the NDPR to create opportunities for youths of the host communities.
The communities, Ogbele, Obumeze, Oshiugbokor, Otari, Omaraka, Rumuekpe, Rumuji and Omerelu, where NDPR operates, claim they are not benefiting from the agreements they have entered with the firm in the areas of jobs and empowerment.
Daily Sun gathered that some individuals in Ogbele community, a week ago, had staged a protest at the facility of NDPR in their area, seeking the sack of three top management of the company.
The development had sparked tension in the area leading to closure of NDPR’s operations in the area temporarily.
Protesters from the eight communities, who stormed the office of NDPR in Port Harcourt had in a letter signed by 50 of the community representatives disassociated themselves from an earlier protest where calls were made for the sack of some staff members of the company.
The letter read in part: “We insist and declare that Allaji Buba Umaru, Mr Friday Ogwu and Mrs Ijeoma Okoli have committed no offense to warrant sacking. The call for their sack was unfounded, predicated on selfish reasoning and a cheap blackmall meant to stampade the company for hijack. Those holding sack them opinion are not community representatives and as such, should be discarded for want of merit.”
“We also demand that henoeforth, patronage of any kind should be channelled through
authorised community rather than the seeming practice of kowtowing to the sneeze of one family whose sole interest is to commandeer all for itself.
“The danger is, if encouraged, any group or family or individual can wake up and demand
for the sack of the Managing Director.
“We, also seek explanation as to the rumoured monetary pay-out to the protesters who illegally occupied the company’s facilities. Any attempt to adhere to the demands of these selfish individuals will result to a total shutdown of the operations of NDPR.”
Leader of the protest Dr Kikpoye Gogo, handing over the protest letter, called on the firm to create more employment and empowerment programmes for its host communities’ youths.
NDPR Technical Manager Mr Ebenezer Ageh, receiving the letter on behalf of the company, regretted that the firm’s operation had been shut down for over one week because of the protests.
Ageh said the company would continue to tow the path of peace in its engagement with the host communities.
He added that all issues raised would be resolved by the firm to enable them resume operations in the affected area.