By Nkiruka Nnorom
The people of Idheze Community in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, have threatened to shut down the operations of Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC) in the community due to the company’s gross neglect in past nine years.
Rising from a two-day annual mini-conference held from Thursday, April 22 to Friday, April 23, 2021, the community said it has tolerated the neglect and ill-treatment by NAOC for too long and was now making final arrangements for total occupation of the company’s facilities.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Idheze Community Development Union(ICDU), Mr. Emmanuel Ofiemo, said in a statement that NAOC has shown no sign of a good corporate socially responsible organisation in its operations in the community, noting that the oil producing firm has not only neglected the community, but has refused to resolve many complaints over the years.
“We have never seen a company that is so deficient in corporate social responsible and deliberately fuel crisis. For instance, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Idheze and NAOC expired over nine years ago. The MoU is the document that clearly spells out how the company can provide physical infrastructure among others but the company had refused to renew the expired MoU under the guise of migrating to Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU). We have held several meetings with the company that had yielded no fruits. It very obvious that NAOC is not ready to develop our community but continues to take crude oil and gas from our land, which has negatively impacted us,” Ofiemo said.
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He disclosed that while Idheze community had reported the development to the Delta State Government, NAOC also ignored efforts by the government to intervene.
“It is very obvious that NAOC is not ready to listen to us despite our peaceful disposition. Hence, we have decided to shut down their operations until they accede to all our demands. For instance, NAOC must compensate the Idheze community for the nine years it had operated without MoU. It must pay for the lands it acquired years ago for its operations. It must provide employment for our people and it must pay all outstanding debts owed to contractors for jobs done since 2018, 2019 and 2020. The community is only making final consultations with relevant government’s agencies because we believe in sustaining the peaceful environment in our community. After these consultations, we shall occupy NAOC facilities,” he said.
Ofiemo noted that despite that fact the Idheze contributed over 150,000 barrels of crude oil to NAOC’s production, the company had only repaid the community with “no single project and no employment for our people.”
He explained that the community embarked on a peaceful protest in July 2020, which was suspended after NAOC promised to look into their complaints.
“NAOC had pleaded that we suspend the protest, explaining that the economic lockdown caused by COVID-19 pandemic was affecting their operations. They promise to find solutions to our complaints but almost a year after, nothing has been done. Therefore, we have resolved to shut down their operations until NAOC accede to every of our requests,” he said.