GMoU: Split Wakirike Cluster, SPDC Urged

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The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC)
and its joint venture partners have been urged to split the communities lumped
in the newly inaugurated Wakirike cluster to facilitate the sustainable
transformation of the area.

Making the request during the signing of the new Global
Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) for Wakirike cluster and the renewal of the
GMoU for Etche 1 and 2 clusters last Thursday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers
State capital, the Amanyanabo of Ogoloma, HRH A.T. Obubibo, said the splitting
of the cluster was necessary in order to achieve speedy development while
deepening the impact of the company’s social investment in the area.

Obubibo said that the Wakirike cluster was so large that the
impact of SPDC may not be felt by the ordinary grassroots dwellers if the 22
communities that constitute the present cluster are not split into, at least,
two development areas.

While lauding SPDC for remaining steadfast in efforts to
fashion a workable GMoU framework that would carry all stakeholders along and
bring meaningful development to Wakirike, Obubibo challenged the communities to
guarantee sustainable peace as a precursor to development and ensure mutual
respect and support for the company and governments at all levels.

Speaking, Manager, Government and Community Relations, SPDC,
Fufeyin Funkakpo, recalled the sterling achievements recorded by both Etche 1
and Etche 2 clusters during the pilot schemes in the last five years, which he
said, impacted positively on the people and transformed the development
landscape of Etche.

Fufeyin stated that as a partnership model which puts
resources directly into the hands of the people and lays emphasis on host
community participation in formulation and execution of development programmes
and projects, SPDC believes that a strategic synergy with the governments,
implementing non-governmental organisations and the communities would deliver
on set goals.

According to him, “SPDC remains committed to the sustainable
development of the Niger Delta…I believe that over time, NGOs and communities
will play bigger roles in the development of the Niger Delta, as the GMoU model
is fast gaining acceptance in government, oil industry and communities.”

“The communities, NGOs, SPDC and Rivers State Government
still have a lot of work to do to ensure that the GMoU is implemented
effectively and transparently,” Fufeyin noted, stressing that SPDC was
“committed to making the GMoUs work.”

He thanked the 22 communities in the new Wakirike cluster
for surmounting all obstacles and agreeing to partner the company for
development while also tasking the nine and 12 communities in Etche 1 and 2
clusters, respectively, to work more closely with SPDC to excel in the
transformation of their communities.

In his remarks, Rivers State Commissioner for Chieftaincy
and Community Affairs, Charles Okaye, reckoned that although Etche 1 and 2
clusters had delivered some projects to the people in the pilot five-year GMoU
scheme, but challenged all the 43 communities in Etche 1 and 2, and Wakirike
clusters to honestly and religiously work with all parties under the GMoU to
bequeath a transformational legacy for posterity.

Okaye noted his love for Wakirike people who never allowed
anyone to cheat them, and advised that while working to realise the vision
behind the letters of the GMoU, they must embrace peace, eschew violence and
exhaust all avenues of dialogue towards achieving sustainable development.

While saying that his ministry was open to address any
disputes arising from the implementation of the GMoU, the commissioner urged
both SPDC and the 43 communities to live up to their commitments in the GMoU
agreements.

Also speaking, Onye-Ishi Agulu of Ozuzu, Eze Monday Amaechi,
regretted the lapses observed in the implementation of the pilot GMoU scheme in
Etche in spite of the huge successes recorded in the last five years, and hoped
that the renewed agreement would drive the speedy development of the area.

The Tide recalls that between 2007 and 2011, SPDC had
invested more than N5billion in 117 communities in 10 clusters under the GMoU
scheme for the implementation of various people-oriented development
initiatives directly selected and executed by the communities in Rivers State
alone.

The Tide gathered that out of about 60 clusters identified
in the Niger Delta, only around 27 are presently active in Rivers, Bayelsa, and
Delta states.