…demands for job slots, signing of MoU, others
By Festus Ahon & Ochuko Akuopha
DISSATISFIED by its conduct, the people of Ogbeani Community in Ndokwa West Local Government Area, Delta State, Monday, staged a protest against Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company SEEPCO/Ashtavinayak Hydrocarbon Limited over its failure to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU with the community.
The protesters which included the old and young indigenes of the community, besieged the company premises as early as 9 am and barred all forms of movement in and out of the company. They chanted songs to express their displeasure with the company.
The people carrying placards with different inscriptions, such as “We need immediate signing of MoU”; “We Need To See The C.E.O;” “Give Us Job”; “SANDEEP Stop Frustrating Ogbeani,” among others, insisted that they would not leave the company premises till their demands were met.
As at the time of filing this report at about 3.30 pm, the protesters were still at the company premises.
One of the protesters, Mr Samuel Enebeli, who spoke to newsmen on behalf of the people, alleged that the company has failed to sign an MoU with the community since they commenced operations.
Enebeli added that the peaceful protest was to let the world know what the company was treating them. Also speaking, Mr Festus Obodeh, disclosed that the agitation by the community for fair treatment by the company had attracted the intervention of the State Government.
Saying that the company was not respecting government and the host community, Obodeh said it was “wrong for the company to be operating without a Community Liaison Officer or reaching an understanding with their host”.
On his part, Chief Peter Udome, accused the company of sidelining the community in the scheme of things, alleging that “the company has engaged more than 5,000 Indians and more than 200 non-indigenes with nobody employed from the host community, Ogbeani”.
A youth leader in the community, Mr. Lucky Aninwe, who also spoke said the protest was long overdue, lamenting that the company has taken the community for granted.
Aninwe said; “we have always wanted to protest against the company but, the elders have refrained us, seeking peaceful means of resolving issues, and it is good that today, we have come out to let them know that things should be done right.
“They cannot just ignore the host community endlessly even with the intervention of the state government; we are not ending this protest until our demands are met”, insisting that there must be a singed Memorandum of Understanding, MoU. The company should employ youths of the community, pay some token to the community for every truck they move from the company; have a Community Liaison Officer, meet with its Corporate Social Responsibilities, among others”.
Effort to reach the company management for comment on the matter, proved abortive at press time.