By Ochuko Akuopha
OLEH—PROTESTERS, yesterday, barricaded the entrance to the office of Sterling Energy Exploration Company, SEEPCO, at Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area, Delta State, demanding the relocation of the company’s operational headquarters from Lagos to Delta State.
They also kicked against the company’s use of vessels to haul crude oil from Ndokwa and its alleged unwillingness to comply with the provisions of the Local Content Act.
Gathered under the aegis of Pages Group International, PGI, the placard carrying protesters, comprising mainly of youths of Ndokwa nation, condemned the alleged refusal of the company to comply with the directive of the Federal Government to multinational oil companies to relocate their headquarters to their states of operations.
Speaking during the protest, President General of PGI, Chukwuma Chukwuma said: “This company operates here in Ndokwa nation in Delta State but their head office is in Lagos. We are not saying that their head office must be within the Ndokwa nation but they should relocate to anywhere in Delta State.
“We are asking them to relocate their headquarters so that the Delta State Government can get its tax in accordance to what they are supposed to get from the company. This company does not pay their tax to the Delta State Government, but they are paying their tax to Lagos State. As you can see, the oil price in the global market has fallen drastically and everybody is looking for internally generated revenue.
“Under normal circumstances, they are supposed to run pipes so that their oil is recorded for the people of Delta State and for the people of the Ndokwa nation , but this company haul its oil through barges. They explore our oil, fill their vessels in the River Niger and take it away and oil is not really counted for us.
“We want them to channel their oil through means with which it can be recorded for us, because as it stands, we don’t even know the quantum of oil they take from our land, no one is taking the records. We want it to count so that the Ndokwa people and Delta State will have their due benefit.”
Lamenting the company’s alleged disregard for the Local Content Act, he said “If you go to their operational site, you will see over a thousand Indians working as unskilled workers. They went to their country, brought their relatives to take job opportunities that are supposed to be meant for the people of Delta State and the Ndokwa nation. Even in managerial staff, they don’t consider the people of Delta State. We are saying no to this kind operation.”