Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Kinsmen of leader militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, popularly known as Tompolo, in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State yesterday raised the alarm of threat to peace in the Niger Delta by the activities of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and its joint partner, NECONDE, in the operations of OML 42 over an alleged marginalisation of youths of the region in the award of contracts and employment opportunities against the local content Act.
They contended that already, the youths of the region, particularly from Gbaramatu Kingdom, were resorting to self-help out of frustration but that the traditional council had been prevailing on them to tow the part of dialogue.
The acting Secretary of Gbaramatu Traditional Council of Chiefs, Chief Godspower Gbenekama, raised the alarm at a press conference in Warri, appealing to the federal government and its relevant agencies to intervene in the grievances of the youths before they get out of hand.
He said Gbaramatu Kingdom has no grievances against the federal government following the peace keeping mission taken by acting President Yemi Osinbajo, but that the activities of NPDC/NECONDE are threatening the new peace in the area, noting that if urgent steps are not taken, the situation might get out of the control of elders of the region which might affect increase in production of crude oil in the area.
Gbenekama alleged that NPDC/NECONDE had been undermining the local content Act by avoiding to award contracts and employment of locals even in areas where they are competent.
â€œThe unwholesome activity of NNPC/NPDC and her partner, NECONDE, to tactically relegate all indigenous Niger Delta contractors by re-awarding all contracts in OML 42 operations covering Odidi 1 and 2, Egwa 1 and 2, Batan and Jones Creek Flowstations to their cronies and tribesmen is indeed very sad.
â€œIt is sad and unfortunate because the planned relegation of Izon contractors from this area of operations is coming at a time when communities, state and federal governments have resolved to work as a team in pursuit of peace.
â€œSince the recommencement of oil exploration activities in OML 42 in 2012, no single community re-entry project has been executed in the host communities. More disheartening and provocative is the blatant refusal of the managing director of NECONDE Energy Limited to honour his agreement with OML 42 host communities, an act that we consider very dishonest and inimical to the peace in the region,â€ he said
Gbenekama lamented the continuous ploy by NPDC/NECONDE to replace all community workers currently working in OML 42 flow stations like Batan, Odidi and Jones Creeks with relatives and friends â€œof the powers that beâ€ in NPDC/NECONDE alike, describing that act as a calculated attempt to short-change the indigenes of their source of livelihood.
He therefore called on Osinbajo and the management of NNPC to urgently address the grievances of the youths of the area on the OML 42 operations.
â€œWe have tried to placate our youths but it might get to a situation where we will no longer control them because their grievances are genuine. We intervened by writing series of letters to the company but no response, and the issues are yet to be corrected,â€ he added