By Dennis Agbo
UMUEZEANI community, Amaeke –Ngwo, in Udi local government area of Enugu state has protested an alleged divide and rule tactics of one of the factories cited in the community, the Nigeria Breweries Plc.
In an early morning peaceful protest, on Tuesday, the community members, including women, youths and the elderly carried placards, barricading front of the company premises and demanded for withdrawal of some management staff from the Brewery.
Some of the placards read: “Give us our Christmas gifts; “Conflict sponsors must go,” “Long live NB Plc”, “BW and PAM must go” among other inscriptions.
Efforts made to get NB Plc react to the protest could not much yield dividend as the company’s media consultants in Lagos promised to send the company’s side of the story.
Chairman of Umuezeani community, Evangelist Okezie Amujiorgu said that his people were expressing their grievances over the happening in Nigeria Breweries Plc which they were the host community.
“The Public Affairs Manager and the Brewery Manger are instigating problems in our community. They are recognizing people that are not in authority in the community, using and sponsoring them to cause problems and breach of peace in the community.
“On the issue of economic empowerment, they are collaborating with them. They went to court and brought a fraudulent court injunction, restraining me and others from parading ourselves as executive members of Umuezeani community and our people are not happy about it.
“Some of the things the company is supposed to be doing for us such as contracts that are meant for the community, the NB staffs collaborated with a few of our community members to execute the contracts and share the money.
“We don’t have any issue with NB itself but this Brewery Manager and the Public Affairs manager are the ones causing problems in our community. Instead of discussing with the community, they are collaborating with only four members of our community to use our entitlements to fight us.
“They are sitting on an empowerment programme which the NB head office gave Ama Brewery order to execute for us, saying that we are not the authority. The Brewery Manager was mandated to reshuffle some of the contracts meant for the community but he doesn’t want to do it because he is collaborating with few to use it for their own selfish needs.
“These are what made our people to be aggrieved and they are not happy at all. We have waited but up till this moment they have not called us. They don’t want to recognize us as the authority of the community.
“Our demands are that we need to harmonies the contract list. They should let us know those executing the community contracts so that everybody can benefit. The empowerment programme and the staff should stop sponsoring court matters against the host community. We have not received any Christmas gifts from the company,” Amujiorju narrated.
One of the community leaders, Mr. Ikechukwu Onoh insisted that NB Plc has no issue with his community, but with the management of Ama Brewery.
He said that “they don’t want to recognize the leadership of the community because they are sowing seeds of discord using some few individual to cause problem in the community. They give community packages directly to those dissidents.”
Another elder of the community Chief Callistus Eze traced the problem to 2003 when the brewery was cited in the land the community previously gave to government for housing project and their people were not given employment as promised.
“The former Managing Director, Festus Odimuegwu contracted all the jobs there to third party contractors, making it impossible for us to get jobs. Since then they cancelled establishment of workers union in the company.
“Only the contractors employed us and paid us peanuts and at anytime they like. Our worries started since them but unfortunately things started unfolding up to when their Managing Director from Holland came to Umuezeani community and promised to remedy the anomalies,” Eze said.