Just as relative peace is gradually coming back to the Oil producing areas of the Niger Delta region of the country, another front of crisis is brewing in Delta State which if not urgently addressed, may lead to a major set back in the Nation’s drive for stable revenue.
This fresh crisis yet in its cocoon is contained in the submissions by Host Landlords of the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Okpai, Ndokwa East Local Government Area, during a protest at the headquarters of Delta State Ministry of Oil and Gas, Asaba.
Coming under the aegis of Association Of Family Of Oil & Gas Producing Community (ASFOGAPCOM), Okpai Unit, the landlords bemoaned years of exploitation, marginalization and oppression by Agip which has paid deaf ears to the demands of the host community.
ASFOGAPCOM while querying the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) being paraded by Agip as reached in the 1950s, demanded their due entitlements as established and failure to immediately meet them, will result to a shutdown of the operations of the Kwale/Okpai Gas Plant.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Mr. Obi A. Okwuezulu and Comr. Linus E. Osaji, chairman and secretary respectively in a letter to the Delta State Governor, dated 23rd January, 2019 as obtained by newsmen, they critically condemned the non employment of their Sons and Daughters by Agip and threatened consequences on Agip Oil Well Heads in order to equate the injustices being melted out on them.
The letter titled, “RE: DENIAL OF EMPLOYMENT CHANCES BY NIGERIA AGIP OIL COMPANY (NAOC)”, reads below.
“We are the host landlords to Nigeria Agip Oil Company in Okpai Clan, Ndokwa East Local Government Area, Delta State under the auspices of the Association Of Family Of Oil & Gas Producing Community, Okpai Branch (ASFOGAPCOM).
“We are using this medium to call on the General Public, federal Government, The executive Governor, Delta State, and other Security Agents that we have exhausted every peaceful means, and processes in trying to resolve the injustice, oppression, and marginalization melted on us by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company since 1970’s, even at that, the Nigeria Agip oil Company has by all means refused to pay attention to our demands.
“It is important that the world be aware of our case before they tag us Militants. Our case is that, the Nigeria Agip Oil Company have been exploring Oil and Gas from our land for over 50 years and non of our sons or daughters have employment in the company at any category both in the Kwale/Okpai Gas Plant either main stream or contract staff. We know the importance of peace and we also know the benefit of crises,
hence, we have traded peacefully until now that we have decided that if the Nigeria Agip Oil Company do not provide all our employment chances with immediate effect, we shall never be sure of the consequences on Agip well heads on our lands if that will bring justice to our people.
“Whereas since inception of Agip operations in our lands, there had never been any M.O.U between the Nigeria Agip Oil Company and our forefathers. It is therefore to say that the Nigeria Agip Oil Company deceived our fathers and illegally took our lands.
“On this note, we desire to know what are our entitlements in the Kwale/Okpai Gas Plant and Agip in generally.”
The letter was also sent to the Delta State Commissioner of Oil and Gas; the Commander Joint Task Force, Yenogoa; Director of State Security, Asaba; 222 Battalion, Agbara- Utor; JTF Kwale, JTF Kwale/Okpai Gas Plant and the Divisional Manager, Stakeholders and Community Development, NAOC, Port Harcourt, Rivers State for notification.
Meanwhile, the Delta State Government has however met with the group and appealed for calm as it makes effort to reach out to Agip with a view of resolving the impasse.
In a meeting with the aggrieved landlords at the headquarters of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, Asaba, the Commissioner in charge of the ministry, Mr Freeman Fregene urged the aggrieved ASFOGAPCOM not to take law into their hands but to take to peaceful resolution of the problem.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Pat Ajufo, Mr Fregene assured the Hostcom Executive of the State Government commitment to sustainable peace and security in oil and gas producing communities.