Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that the government will not tolerate the shutting down of oil production facilities of companies operating in the state.
Governor Wike said under no circumstances should communities take laws into their own hands by preventing oil production companies from working.
He stated this, yesterday, during a meeting with chairmen of Cluster Development Boards in Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema local government areas with oil companies and security agencies at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor also directed the immediate revival of the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards.
He said: “I will not support any company not to carry out their corporate social responsibilities to their host communities.
“However, communities must not take laws into their hands. They must not stop production by the operating companies. Such actions will negatively affect the finances of the Federal Government, the state and the local government areas.”
He said in cases where companies failed to act within the expectations of the communities, the state government would mediate through the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards.
“It is important we do not allow crisis to occur in the communities. The Aeroton rig in one community was seized. That rig should be allowed to work. I called this meeting because of the concerns raised by the operating companies in the area,” he said.
Governor Wike said the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards will have the permanent secretary, community development, security agencies, community Development clusters and oil companies as members
He said the committee will meet regularly to address ensuing challenges to forestall escalation of conflicts.
He regretted that most problems in the Niger Delta were caused by oil companies, who patronise and engage with criminal elements to the disadvantage of the host communities.
Former commissioner of Environment, Samuel Horsfall, said the oil operating companies know the right thing to do, but would never take the right steps.
He alleged that the oil companies refuse to recognise council chairmen, who are the direct links to the respective communities.
An official of one of the Cluster Development Boards, Charles Sekibo, denied seizing the rig of one of the oil companies. He said his community has always provided the needed support for the company to engage in production.
Aeroton, Managing Director, Ebiaho Emafo, said nobody has the right to stop the production of oil companies.
He said the company has spent about N3 billion on community development, saying the company is struggling to make ends meet.