By Daniel Gumm
WARRI—THE Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje Coastal Communities have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to speedily check what they described as the anti-local contractors activities of a “cabal” in Federal Government-owned institutions and organizations, particularly, the National Petroleum Investment Management Services, NAPIMS and Chevron Nigeria Limited.
In a letter to President Buhari earlier this week by Uyaesan Amaju (Itsekiri), Timiebi Jones (Ijaw) and Ogunmuyiwa Atolagbe (Ilaje), the group accused the cabal of being resolute in its determination to ensure that the status quo ante, which hitherto gave recognition to local contractors by companies in their areas of operations, was disregarded by openly marginalizing the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje Coastal Communities.
“We are aware that Chevron, a major oil company operating in the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje coastal communities, is bringing a “RIG” to the Area for use in their exploration and production of crude oil and gas, which as usual is a welcome development, but the circumstances surrounding the arrival of this RIG, the activities and job the rig is to carryout, is our major cause of concern.
“The said rig, on arrival, will operate with about 110 employees and also require the services of contractors to provide other materials and support services. Of these 110 employees, we were informed that the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje coastal communities were only given 21 slots (that is, 7 slots apiece). The remaining 89 employees had been sourced and employed from outside the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje coastal communities. This percentage is less than 30 percent of the entire workforce a situation that is unacceptable to us.
“We are saying that workers cannot be brought from elsewhere within the country. The point we are making is that being the ones that feel the brunt of oil and gas exploration and production activities, a sizeable percentage of the workforce ought to be given to us.
“This is not the first time Rigs will be brought to the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje coastal communities for execution of jobs. The last Rig that came to the area gave over 50 percent of the workforce needed to the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje coastal communities and they performed creditably well. We therefore, see no basis for this brazen act of marginalization by Chevron.
“Further, all contracts for supply of materials and services have been awarded, without recourse to, and without taking the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje coastal communities into consideration. The least of these contracts, even for the supply of items like tissue papers were awarded to contractor from outside the area under pretext that these contracts were bidded for, and awarded to the bid winners.”
The group warned that unless the situation was reversed immediately, it “would not be able to guarantee the safety of men, materials, facilities and due execution of the job by persons who are alien to our communities, our sacred places, customs and traditions, a situation which may occasion chaos, breakdown of peaceful and conducive environment to work, which may affect the entire project.”