By Chioma Onuegbu,
Uyo-LEADERS of Akwa Ibom State from oil-producing communities have applauded the management of ExxonMobil for the three community assistance projects recently flagged off in the state, namely: technical skills acquisition centre, trauma centre and engineering complex.
The leaders who spoke separately during the ground- breaking ceremony of the Acquisition Centre located at Community Technical College, Ikot Akata in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, however, hoped for more of such physical projects by ExxonMobil in its host communities and across the state.
Better days ahead
Chief Nduese Essien, the Ata of Ekid, Eket Local Government Area and a former Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development who decried the non-existence of physical projects by Mobil in the state said: “I think today marks a new beginning in the relationship between Mobil and Akwa Ibom State.
“This is something that we have been looking forward to over the years. Up till now, Mobil has nothing visible to show in the state in terms of physical projects. This is the sort of thing that we expect from Mobil. It is not enough to say you pay money to the Federal Government, pay money to the NDDC.
Oil communities deserve more attention
“The people who are giving you the products are the ones that should be major beneficiaries. And we have been hoping that Mobil should have become synonymous with Akwa Ibom because most of its operations are done in this state.
“So when the projects must have been completed and commissioned, we will have something to point at and the relationship between host communities and Mobil will be rejuvenated.”
On his part, Governor Udom Emmanuel commended the new Executive Chairman of ExxonMobil, Paul McGrath and indeed, the entire management for ensuring that the projects eventually became a reality after being in the pipeline for the past four years.
Gesture ‘ll engender better understanding
Emmanuel, who expressed the hope that the development would encourage a deeper collaboration between the company and the state, assured of the readiness and commitment of his administration to provide infrastructure and security towards the relocation of ExxonMobil headquarters to its operational base.
“I am going to provide you 21-storey building to relocate to Akwa Ibom State because all your operations are here in Akwa Ibom. And I want to reassure you that we will give you maximum cooperation and peaceful atmosphere,” he added.
Mr. Paul Arinze, General Manager, Public & Government Affairs, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, who described the N13 billion community assistance projects as historic, however, explained that the projects were carefully cited in locations where they will impact the people.
He said: “We hope that this collaboration between NNPC/Mobil Joint Venture will continue to build. We hope that the Trauma Centre located at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, will be a major life- saver in Akwa Ibom State.
Road to self confidence
“With the Skills Acquisition Centre, we will be teaching young people from this state and other parts of the country how to use their energy, their hands and their brain to produce livelihood for themselves and contribute to the economy of the state and this country.”
He, however, noted that youth restiveness was one issue that could delay the timely completion of the projects and appealed for cooperation of all stakeholders particularly the communities to ensure the smooth take off and completion of the projects.
The Mkpat Enin Council Chairman, Mr. Ekanem Brown who thanked ExxonMobil for deeming it fit to build the ultra modern skills acquisition centre in his area assured that there would be no community interruption from the beginning to the completion of the project.