By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa â€” Youths from KEFFES communities in Southern Ijaw Local Govern-ment Area of Bayelsa State, yesterday, sealed up Yenagoa liaison office of Chevron Nigeria Limited in protest over what they described as a breach of the Global Memorandum of Understanding, G-MoU, entered between them and the oil firm.
KEFFES is an acronym for communities where Chevron operates in Bayelsa State and it consists of Koluama 1, Koluama II, Ekeni, Foropa, Fishtown, Ezetu I, Ezetu II and Sangana, all in the Southern-Ijaw and Brass local government areas of the state.
The youths, under the auspices of Keffes Community Rights Organi-sation, threatened to shut down the companyâ€™s flow stations which spread across Southern Ijaw and Brass local government areas, if Chevron refuses to revisit what they considered a â€œfraudulent documentâ€ signed December last year in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and foisted on the people.
Armed with placards, some of which read, â€œChevron pack your loads and goâ€, â€œChevron-sponsored G-MoU is unacceptableâ€, â€œChevron deceived Bayelsa Stateâ€, among others, the protesters stormed the companyâ€™s premises on Imgbi road at Amarata suburb of Yenagoa at about 8.45am and barred the staff from entering the premises.
The timely intervention of a detachment of anti-riot policemen, led by Reuben Kemah (DSP) prevented the situation from degenerating into violence, as he prevailed on the youths to explore constitutional means to press home their demand instead of resorting to protest which could be hijacked by miscreants to foment trouble.
Chevron signed G-MoU inÂ Port-Harcourt
The protesting youths attributed their action to the insensitivity of the company to the plight of its host communities, including the signing of a Global Memo-randum of Understanding,Â G-MoU, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
According to the Public Relations Officer of KEFFES Community Rights Organi-sation, Chief Julius Talor, â€œChevron, since taking over from Texaco, had been insensitive to our plight in the areas of provision of social amenities, such as potable water, electricity, employment and renovation of leaking roofs of school buildings.â€
He described as unaccep-table the situation where some indigenes employed by the company had been retained as casual staff for almost 10 years.
President of Keffes Community Rights Organi-sation, Engr. Braemi Samuel Elisha, said the first G-MoU signed with the community elapsed October last year and needed to be reviewed, adding that they were shocked by Chevronâ€™s signing ofÂ the document in Port Harcourt with some persons from the area who were not representatives of the people.
Elisha alleged that by that singular action, the firm wasÂ using divide and rule tactics to impose the G-MoU on the people, thereby causing friction among the people.
He added that their organi-sation did not recognise the said G-MoU signed outside the state, especially as the community leadership and the state government who were parties to the review of the document were not consulted.
According to him, the youths will proceed to close the companyâ€™s platforms in North-Apoi, Funiwa, Pennin-gton and Agbami, some 70 nautical miles in the deep sea in Southern Ijaw and Brass areas of Bayelsa State to drive home their demands.
Elisha noted that with the signing of the G-MoU in Port Harcourt, the company was portraying Bayelsa in bad light, even when its opera-tion had been going on unhindered in the state.
â€œYou are quite aware that we are in the post-amnesty era, we donâ€™t want problem. Those days are gone when people would just come from anywhere and make us to fight ourselves.
â€œSo for now, they should stop work here until the issue of the signing of the G-MoU is resolved,â€ he said.
Contacted, the mobile line of the Communications Manager of Chevron, Mr. Temitope Idowu, rang out without response, but a staff of the companyâ€™s Govern-ment and Public Affairs Department, who spoke anonymously, said it was Bayelsa State government that advised the company to sign the G-MoU elsewhere for security reasons, following protest by some repentant militants in the state over unpaid allowances at the time.
He added that over 200 people from Keffes commu-nity were privy to the signing in Port Harcourt and that the oil giant had been working with the Regional Develop-ment Council, RDC, which is recognised by the people.