A fresh crisis is looming in the oil fields across the Niger Delta region as the Itsekiri host communities threaten to make life unbearable for the newly recruited 1,050 refinery staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation deployed in various locations in the area.
Leadership of the various Itsekiri oil-producing communities comprising Ubeji, Aja-Etan, Ijala-Ikenren and Ifie-Kporo, at a press conference in Warri on Wednesday, declared that they “can no longer guarantee the safety of new recruits pouring in to our communities to be gainfully employed, while our children are made to serve them.”
In a communiqué issued on Wednesday, the communities lamented that NNPC had decided to recruit all these new refinery employees, “without deeming it necessary to give out any slot or allocation to the communities” at a time the corporation sacked about 850 indigenes from its workforce, many of whom it had used as casual workers for years.
The communiqué was jointly signed by the Trustees Chairmen of the various Itsekiri communities, including Erewa Clement, Billy Ekenle, Prince Adolphus Tosanwumi, Clifton Edema and, Ofoyelu Izuagia.
The Itsekiri host communities demanded that their “kinsmen, who were unjustly sacked by WRPC, be reinstated to their duty posts immediately with an improved working condition.”
In case of failure to reinstate them, they warned, “NNPC should be ready to stop all operations at the Nigerian Gas Company, WRPC, NPDC, and PPMC.”
“We are ready to take on the NNPC this time around and we will deploy all available forces within our reach,” the Itsekiri host communities declared.
Meanwhile, the people of Edo and Delta communities in the Niger Delta have threatened to stop the ongoing bidding for the award of marginal oil fields in the region.
A group known as the Elite of Egbema Kingdom issued the threat in a statement made available to our correspondent in Asaba, asking the Federal Government to ensure equity in the bidding process.
The statement, which was signed by Joel Bisina and Ebitimi Ukori, Acting Chairman and Secretary of the group respectively, warned that the Egbema people would resist any lopsidedness in the award of the 57 marginal oil fields to prospective operators.
“The attention of the Elite of Egbema Kingdom, in both Delta and Edo States has been drawn to the fact that a fresh bid for the award of 57 marginal oil fields to prospective operators is presently ongoing.
“It is a well-known fact that Egbema Kingdom is a major producer of oil and gas, which constitute the revenue base of the country.
“As a result of the exploration of oil and gas in our communities, the kingdom has suffered environmental degradation and our livelihoods have been destroyed over the years.
“But yet, the Federal Government has persistently neglected these communities to live in abject poverty,” the statement read.
They also demanded the minimum of a 25 per cent equity holding on all the fields within Egbema territory if the Federal Government wanted an unfettered access by bid winners.
Matthew Ochei and Dele Ogunyemi, Punch