Okon Bassey in Uyo
ExxonMobil Nigeria, a multinational oil company operating in Akwa Ibom, yesterday said it had invested N170 million on peace building programmes to enhance its smooth operation and development of host communities.
The firm’s General Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Mr. Nigel Cookey-Gam, gave the figure at the unveiling of Community Investment Programme (CIP) at Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
Cookey-Gam explained the programme was one of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) joint venture initiatives dedicated to engaging the youths positively on the virtue of peaceful engagement.
The general manager said the programme was targeting the youths of its host communities of Eket, Esit Eket, Ibeno and Onna Local Government Areas, Akwa Ibom State
He said the NNPC/MPN Joint Venture “is here for the long haul and is repositioning to deliver greater value to the community, Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria.”
At the unveiling of the programme, the Commissioner for Transport and Petroleum Resources, Mr. Orman Esin, urged ExxonMobil “to increase its budgetary allocation to the community investment programme in the state.”
The commissioner noted that the N170 million earmarked for the peace and capacity building programme for the youths was grossly inadequate given the priceless value of peace and industrial harmony in oil bearing communities.
He, therefore, urged the multi-national oil company “to make the community investment programme a yearly programme,” emphasizing that the youths were in dire need of job opportunities and capacity development.
Esin also advised the youths to remain peaceful and allow the company to operate, promising that he would engage the company until the demands of the communities are met.
In his address, the ExxonMobil Joint Venture Operations General Manager, Mr. Tom Benjaminsen, said so far in 2019 alone, the company had witnessed 25 cases of blockade, seizure and attacks on contractors.
He noted that these cases of harassments were major constraints to the successful operation of the company and delivering of critical economic lifeline to the communities in the state.
He, therefore, appealed the community leaders “to continue to mentor our youths to always explore peaceful avenues for resolution of issues.”
ExxonMobil Executive Director, Community Partners for Development (CPD), Dr. Nsekpong Udoh, said that CPD was one of the organisations involved in the implementation of the peace building programmes for the youths in the areas.
Udoh said that her organization would handle the peace and conflict resolution component of the programme for the youths of Eket, Esit Eket, Ibeno and Onna local government areas for industrial harmony in ExxonMobil host communities.
She assured that the programme would inculcate in the youths the courage to address conflict situations by sharing feelings, needs and engaging in dialogue.
Udoh said that the participants in the programme would be trained on the skills of arbitration, mediation and conciliation and how to apply appropriate dialogue and edutainment.
Other components of the programmes are community safety awareness campaign, clean and green environment project, upgrade and beautification of markets as well as community beach party.