By Sylvester Idowu
The Ijaw Youths Council ( IYC), the umbrella body of all Ijaw youths in the Niger Delta, has accused Heritage Energy Operational Services, Limited (HEOSL), operators of the Operational Mining Licence (OML) 30, of impoverishing the people of the region while making other Nigerians billionaires from their activities in the region.
But in a swift reaction, the company dismissed the claim as false, adding that the allegation that it was incompetent and unfit to operate OML30 which is the second largest OML after Nembe in the country was untrue.
The President of the IYC , Eric Omare, during a press conference in Warri, recently, alleged that the company was owing local contractors for more than two years for jobs already executed while others outside the region were being paid.
He alleged that the Board of Directors of the company, rather than pay contractors, pay themselves and their cronies stressing, ” they refuse to pay the local contractors but they pay their own companies.”
“In other words, what they do is this, the company has a Board of Directors , and those Board of Directors have subsidiaries of small, small companies with which they take contracts that are ordinarily ought to go to the local contractors and when it’s time for payment, they pay themselves,” he added, noting that the, “implication is that, instead of that money being spent in the local environment here, it is transported out of the Niger-Delta region, and in most cases, out of the country.”
Omare, maintained that the resultant effect, was the overwhelming and increasing poverty being experienced in the entirety of the Delta environment with potentials to create militancy in the region because, in most cases, people result to militancy because they do not have means of survival.
Speaking further, Omare argued that despite the fact that things were not totally the way they were expected to be, the living condition of the people of Niger Delta ,was far better during Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) than what it is presently.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of State,Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipriye Sylva, to look into the issues raised and nip it in the bud, before it escalates.
However, Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL), operator of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30 said the company was not indebted to any of its contractors.
HEOSL made the clarification in a statement made available to THISDAY, in reaction to allegation that it was owing indigenous contractors.
HEOSL which operates OML 30 on behalf of its Joint Venture Partners, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation (NPDC) and Shoreline Natural Resources Limited (SNRL), urged the public to disregard IYC claims.
The statement explained “when it took over operations of OML 30, it inherited many invoices and ongoing contracts. The company noticed that while some of the invoices could be verified, there were some that could not.
“Despite this, the company went ahead and commenced with the payment of verified invoices while investigating others.
“The volume of the debts necessitated the development in conjunction with contractors of payment plans for installment payments. Since then, the company has been steadily reducing the debts according to the agreed payment plans.”
HEOSL noted that since their takeover of the operation of the OML 30, it had adhered strictly to the Global memorandum of understanding (GMoU) it entered with host communities in October 2018.
“This clarification came in response to allegations by the Ijaw Youth Council at a recent press briefing to the effect that the company is owing contractors, some for as long as three years.”