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Youths in Bayelsa poised for showdown with oil firm

By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—Youths in Sangana in the Brass local government area of Bayelsa State may be heading for a showdown with the Continental Oil and Gas Limited (Conoil) over what they described as non consultation of their traditional ruler and the chiefs’ council by the company in relating with the community.

The youths under the aegis of Skilled Graduates and Post Graduate Association of Sangana community, flayed the activities of Seawolf Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Conoil, that has been contracted to carry out drilling and exploration activities in the area.

They accused the firm of by-passing the chiefs, leadership of the youths and other relevant stakeholders to satisfy a few persons in the coastal community.

In a statement signed by their spokesman, Raymond Morgan, they urged the management of Conoil to show some respect to extant traditional institutions in the area by carrying them along as it is done in other parts of the country where the traditional rulers are accorded due recognition.

The statement reads in part: “Indeed, Conoil enunciated a divide and rule tactic to deprive and impoverish the people of the aforementioned community. The company has been carrying out oil prospecting activities in the locale of Sangana for the past ten years, but no single Sangana indigene has been employed.

“As a corollary to the company’s activities, a subsidiary firm of Conoil called Seawolf has been contracted to commence drilling and exploration activities in our shores again without carrying along the stakeholders of the community.”

The association’s spokesman further noted that the people can no longer do fishing due to repeated incidents of oil spill in the course of oil exploration, frowning that, “yet Conoil is not disposed to employing the people.”

The youths insisted that ‘Delta Queen’, a rig operated by Seawolf and subsidiary of Conoil should not bother coming to its shores, until it carries out proper consultation with the traditional ruler of Sangana community, His Royal Highness, Chief Dickson Gabriel and the youth leadership, in order to avert any possible friction.

Meanwhile, the association claimed it has petitioned the Presidency and the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva over the activities of Conoil, which has resulted into environmental degradation of the area as well as destruction of aquatic life; adding that, “coastal erosion is fast washing  away the entire community, leaving us at the mercy of God.”

The youths therefore called President Umaru Yar’Adua and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to use their good offices to address the coastal erosion that is already making the community and other parts of Akassa kingdom smaller, saying, Sangana is one of the border communities along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean .


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