By Evelyn Usman & Ochuko Akuopha
AGGRIEVED Odinodi, Beniboye and Isiayegbeni communities in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, yesterday, stormed Hydrodive Nigeria Limited, an oil servicing firm in Apapa area of Lagos, calling for the suspension of its repair works on the 48 inches export pipeline at the Forcados terminal in Delta State.
Also, Ndokwa youths, under the aegis of Ndokwa National Youth Movement, NNYM, asked multi-national oil companies operating in Ndokwa East LGA, in Delta State, to relocate their operational headquarters to Aboh, the council’s headquarters or face the wrath of the people
The aggrieved protesters, who alleged that the firm was planning a project estimated at over a billion naira without involving anyone from their communities, also accused it of denying their teeming unemployed graduates opportunity to work within the period of time the repairs would last.
In a swift reaction, the Deputy Managing Director of Hydrodive, Mr Frank Ifedi, claimed: “Our firm and Shell met with the host community and we have sorted out that issue with the host community known as Okulahan kingdom, after which we were given freedom to operate. So, we don’t know who these people are and we have no idea where they are from. As far as we are concerned, all issues with the community have been dealt with.
“We cannot meet with the community without Shell being in attendance. Shell tells us who the host community is and we engage with them. We don’t have the right to gather with the community because Shell has the rules of engagement. Until Shell gives us directive to engage these other communities, we can’t do anything about it.”
However, the protesters called on the firm to remove their equipment from their communities or face unpleasant situations and displayed placards with inscriptions such as “SPDC stop creating crisis in our community”, “Hydrodive leave our community”, “SPDC/ Hydrodive follow due process”, “SPDC/Hydrodive give us our right” and ‘“Federal Government come to our aid, we are dying” among others.
Meanwhile, NNYM in a statement at Ashaka after a meeting of clan and community youth leaders from Ndokwa East, lamented alleged continuous neglect of Ndokwa youths by the companies, reiterating the preparedness of the people to make whatever sacrifice that was needed “to ensure that this oppression being metted on the good people of Ndokwa Nation is put to an end.”
The statement by NNYM’s National Secretary, Presley Idi, argued that “When these companies relocate their headquarters back to our region, it will create endless opportunities for our youths either through direct employment, contracts or through setting up of various business vendors within and around the premises. Most importantly, it will boost the revenue of the local government area and even that of the state, because all taxes going into the coffers of the state where their headquarters are domiciled will automatically be accruable to us.
“We are also calling on the companies to implement fully the local content act. It is appalling to see that the composition of the staffs of these companies is virtually made up of Non-Ndokwas, with our people ever hardly considered for management positions, no matter how qualified they are.
“There is need for urgent palliative measures to be taken so as to enable the sufferings of their people come to an end. Most of our people are farmers, and there is need for access roads as this is the only way our farm produce can be brought to the open market.”