By Ernest Chinwo
The people of Ogba Egbema Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State have said they are being marginalised by oil companies operating in the area and by the state government.
They salso said they would press for the establishment of Rivers State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (RSOGPADC) to manage revenue accruing to the state from the 13 per cent derivation fund.
A spokesman of the area and Chairman of Association of Ogba Egbema Ndoni Communities, Dr. Innocent Masi, stated these while addressing selected journalists in Port Harcourt, the River State capital last weekend.
Masi stated that the local government had over the years been the highest oil and gas producing area of the state. He expressed dismay that the area was being marginalised by both the state government and the oil companies in the area.
The spokesman lamented that despite the vast oil and gas deposits in the area, the people were not employed by the companies, and not given contracts by the companies.
According to him, “The question now is what has the owners of this gas deposit and over 84 oil wells gained from the oil companies? Absolutely nothing, except environmental hazards resulting from gas flaring which started in 1962 till date.
“Almost all the major and sub-contracts at the plant base are handled by non-indigenes. Employ-ment of indigenes to these companies is almost zero. No Omoku man, despite the abundant qualified persons, is occupying any managerial position in Agip Oil. This is man’s inhumanity to man comparable to the old slave trade stopped over 200 years ago,” he said.
He said the people were poised to press home their demands for employment and other facilities, adding that the recent protest over the recent gas spill in the area would be sustained until they start benefiting from their wealth.
“We have called for negotiations, we have written to government, we have asked the company, Agip, for us to talk, but no response. So we embarked on the demonstration. We are very peaceful and we will not carry arms. But if they refuse to listen to us, we will go and occupy our lands. If they want to kill us let them kill us on our land where the oil companies are,” he said.
He also chided the state government for failing to bring development to the area. He said the administration of Governor Chibuike Amaechi had not done anything for the people.
“The nonchalant attitude of the state Government to my people of ONELGA is unfortunate. The attitude to Omoku man has been inhuman. It is the most unfriendly government since Rivers State was created. Up till now, he has not tarred one single road in Omoku. He has only built one water-logged health centre in Omoku,” he said.
He noted that most states in the Niger Delta had established commissions to manage funds accruing to the states from the 13 per cent derivation and wondered why Rivers State was reluctant to establish same.
He said his people would press for the establishment of the commission until the state established it.
“We are following everything legally. We have written open letters to the state House of Assembly. Once they fail to do something on that, then our lawyer will follow up. After all, if he (Amaechi) can become a governor through the court, then we can also get RIVSOPADEC through the court too,” he said.
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