*Govt sues for peace; demands more time to engage oil firm
By Emma Amaize
OIL-RICH Kokodiag-bene community in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State, has threatened to pull out of the Global Memorandum of Understanding, GMoU, with Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, following what appear to be a deteriorating relationship between the company and the riverside community over demand for electricity by the people.
Saturday Vanguard learned that the Delta state government held a meeting, during the week, with the community leaders and officials of Chevron at Asaba, the state capital, where the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr. Festus Agas, appealed to the villagers to maintain peace and give government more time to interface with CNL on their demand.
The meeting which held at the office of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro, was a follow-up to an earlier fence-mending parley in February.
It was gathered that the Chevron team led by the acting Area Manager, West, Mr. Tony Emegere, argued that under the GMoU, the company could not be directly involved in the supply of electricity to the community.
CNL also expressed fear that if Kokodiagbene was given electricity from the Utonana flow station, other host communities would make same demand, which could turn a difficult case to handle for the firm.
The team urged the community to wait for the Federal Government –Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC gas and turbine projects being planned for the area to begin operation.
A villager told Vanguard that the community delegation led by the chairman, Mr. Sheriff Mulade, insisted: “If Chevron continues to hide under GMoU, the people will not hesitate to pull out of it because it cannot form a barrier or a basis for company to anchor and say they cannot be directly involved in supply of electricity to us.”
“Now, Chevron is claiming that they are afraid that if Kokodiagbene community is given electricity from the Utonana flow station, other host communities will make demand on them for same thing, but we rejected and refused this their position,” he disclosed.
“Our chairman expressed total displeasure at the delay tactics being applied by the oil giant, especially in sending lower officers as representatives, saying the company was using the method to buy time.
“He told them that the community was running out of time and that the company was playing game with them, re-emphasizing that no amount of security presence will prevent them from relocating to the Chevron operated Utonana flow station soon since they do not want to give the community power,” he asserted.
His words: “The state government still appealed to Kokodiagbene community to be patient and that government will engage top management staff of Chevron Nigeria Limited to resolve this issue.”
The people of Kokodiagbene community staged a peaceful protest to the Chevron-operated Utonana flow station in February, demanding electricity supply to the community with a 14- day ultimatum to the company to address its request.
The state government summoned leaders of the community to a meeting in Asaba on February 20 to resolve the impasse. Between then and yesterday, the Commanding Officer of the Army Battalion in Koko had waded into the matter, but to no avail.