By Chioma Onuegbu
Uyo—AGGRIEVED youths and community leaders from Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, yesterday, protested the non- reinstatement of their indigenes retrenched by ExxonMobil last year.
The protesters, who assembled in front of the entrance to ExxonMobil QIT, claimed that the sack of Ibeno indigenes demonstrated the company’s neglect of its host communities.
Speaking to newsmen, the leader of the protesting youths, Mr. Samuel Otoekere, said they were saddened by the fact that the company had reinstated most people from outside the state and refused to recall those from their host communities. He lamented that ExxonMobil had always been insensitive to the plight of their people over the years.
He said: “We are aware that some of the retrenched workers from other places have been reinstated. We expected that the company should have done the same for our sons and daughters that were affected. Out of 2,000 contract staff working in Mobil before the retrenchment, less than 50 are from Ibeno.”
Majority of the contract staff are not even from Akwa Ibom State, eventhough we are the owners of the land and the resource they are exploiting.”
“It is sad that the considerable percentage of those contract workers that were sacked by Mobil on the pretext of the current economic recession came from Ibeno. The MoU accorded us 30 per cent employment quota for the core communities comprising Ibeno, Eket, Esit, and Onna, but unfortunately if you check it well going by the number of our people working in Mobil you discover that we don’t even occupy up to 10 percent.”
Also Ibeno Chapter Chairman of Ijaw Youth Council, Mr. Robert Ekpadibe, expressed said their peaceful disposition should not be taken for granted by management of Exxonmobil, saying: “That is why we are insisting that they should relocate their headquarters to their operational base. Our relationship with the Mobil former MD was zero. We never interacted, we never knew him and we never saw him. Even when we write to him he will not give us any feedback. So we expect that the new person should not take us for granted. We want peace”