The people of Mbo local government area in Akwa Ibom State hosting Oriental Energy Resources Ltd operating in their community have protested against the firm for allegedly breaching local content law.
The protesters barricaded major roads on Monday carrying placards with different inscriptions such as:’ Oriental, stop flouting local content law’, ‘Relocate your operational base to Mbo’, Enough of this marginalization in employment and contract awards’, ‘Our people have the qualifications to work in Oriental’, Mbo has community contractors,’ We demand fair play, equity and justice,’ ‘NCDMB save our souls’, among others.
They marched through the streets of Ibaka, a coastal town bordering the Atlantic Ocean chanting war songs while the Police provided tight security to prevent breakdown of law and order.
Speaking to our Correspondent, Mbo Youth President, Comrade Edwards Moses who led the protest said he was surprised that the company has sidelined the people of the area in employment and contract awards not minding the provisions of the nation’s content law.
“Oriental Energy has breached the local content board regulations on engagement. The community content guidelines stipulate that oil companies operating in a community should as a matter of policy should give the community 100 percent unskilled labour, 50 semi-skilled and at least 20 percent of skilled labour, but Oriental has not deemed it fit to do so as contained in Section 4, subsection 1-4 of Nigeria Content A t 2010.
” As a matter of policy, all the service companies working for Oriental are supposed to come from the community, but we have it on good authority that Oriental has advised them not to relate with the people in the community because Oriental has refused to insert community content in their award of contracts.
“Mbo is blessed with all categories of workers ranging from unskilled to skilled labour but the company has blatantly refused to give our people equal opportunity to excel. Of the 300 to 400 unskilled labour working offshore, only two are from Mbo. We appeal to the company to respect the local content law in its operations. If they think they have office in Lagos, we own the platform in our water.”
He appealed to the Managing Director of the company, Mustafa Indimi to look into the grievances of the communities and urged Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board to prevail on the oil firm to follow due process in her operations.
The women leader, Mrs Rebecca Edet Bassey said: “All that we are asking for is empowerment of youth and women. This is an area that produces wealth which makes Akwa Ibom the number one oil producer in the country yet we are living in poverty. Our people have been marginalized by the oil companies operating in our area. We appeal to them to have a change of heart .”
A student leader, Victor Okon Ukutuda, said the communities have over the years provided a peaceful and enabling environment for it to operate warning that such a friendly disposition should not be taken for granted.
Managing Director of the oil firm, Mustafa Indimi could not be reached at the time of going to the press, but the Chairman of the Community Development Committee, Mfon Etim Henry praised the company for carrying out its Corporate Social Responsibility in the area and that the protesters were exercising their fundamental human rights to demand a fair share in the scheme of things.
“Oriental Energy has been a very good company as evident in the litany of projects they have embarked on in the area. But the only problem is the non-compliance with the local content law in terms of employment and engagement of community contractors in offshore operations. This attitude has incited the youths to go on a protest.
The Committee Development Committee (CDC) therefore appeals to Oriental to address their grievances before it gets out of hand.
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