The French Oil giant, Total Exploration and Production and Egi, its host community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State may be heading for collision, thereby ending the many years of their relationship.
This is coming on the heels of several allegations bordering on neglect, deceit, non-compliance with agreements cordially reached by the parties to foster good relations, levelled against the oil firm.
Frustrated by the company’s refusal to honour a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed since 2012, an apex organisation of Egi community, Egi People’s Assembly (EPA), through its leadership, had written a letter to the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to call the company to order, and advise them to respect agreements with host communities.
The letter was channelled to the governor through the Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Shadrach Chukwu, for action.
The Tide reports that since the submission of the letter, nothing tangible has happened as several meetings scheduled by the commissioner for the community and the company to address lingering issues have suffered many postponements at the instance of Total.
Although the parties finally met on July 26, with the commissioner presiding, after the Egi community had stated their case, the company again took an adjournment to return August 16, one of the Egi delegates, Dr Ifeanyi Obulor, exclusively told The Tide.
The community was, however, irked by the company’s action on the agreed date.
It was reported that last Tuesday morning, while Egi delegates numbering more than 50, were waiting in the commissioner’s office, one of Total’s administrative staff brought in a letter dated the same day, and addressed to the commissioner, requesting for a postponement of the meeting.
The letter, signed by one Joseph Ajilore, reads in part: “We write to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated August 11, 2016, with reference MENR/CR/16/281, inviting the Management of Total E & P Nigeria Limited to a follow-up meeting with the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday, 16th August, 2016.
“May we kindly inform the Hon. Commissioner that due to the arrival of a new Deputy Managing Director for the Total P & E, Port Harcourt District, we are unable to attend this meeting at the agreed time”.
The Tide learnt that the reading of the letter generated anger and tension in the commissioner’s office as most delegates immediately expressed reservations on the non-challant attitude of the Total management.
Reacting to the development, the new President-General of Egi nation, Apostle Magnus Elemele, said: “Commissioner, you can see the behaviour of this company. How can they send a letter this morning when my people are already here, having abandoned their different businesses to attend this meeting?
“Total E & P is the only oil company in the Niger Delta that had been operating for years without disruption of their operations by our people, but see how they are repaying our good gestures.”
Several other delegates also expressed anger that if a meeting convened by the state government could be treated with levity, the community may just be treated with a wave of hands.
The commissioner, who frowned at the attitude of the company, said: “the action is a slight not only on me but also on the governor on whose behalf, I am acting”, remarking that inasmuch as government would like to protect oil firms operating in the state from undue harassment, it will not tolerate acts that are capable of undermining any community.
He pleaded with the Egi community to exercise patience, and allow government to handle the matter, suggesting that another date for the meeting should be taken.
Obasanjo, Abdulsalami, Sultan, Others Brainstorm On Insecurity
Rising insecurity and agitations for secession by different ethnic groups across Nigeria has attracted the attention of elder statesmen and other national leaders to a meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by Interfaith Initiatives for Peace jointly led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and the National Peace Committee chaired by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Reporters were barred from taking part in the closed-door meeting, expected to proffer solutions to the ongoing security challenges threatening the peace and unity of the country.
It was also an exploratory meeting on pressing issues of national unity, security, peace, integration, economic revitalisation and development, women and youth welfare and general progress.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Tor Tiv, Prof Ortese Iorzua James Ayatse, Emeritus Cardinal John Onaiyekan; President General (Ohanaeze Ndigbo), Prof George Obiozor; and Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo; were all in attendance.
Others sighted at the meeting are President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola; JAMB Registrar, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Etsu Nupe, Yahya Abubakar; former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, among several political and traditional rulers at the meeting.
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark, also attended the event at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but could not participate in the meeting because he could not climb the staircase to the meeting room.
Fighting Corruption Difficult In Democratic Setting, Buhari Laments
President Muhammadu Buhari says fighting corruption in democratic setting is a difficult task to accomplish.
The president disclosed this during an interview with Arise Television which was televised, yesterday.
According to him, the war against corruption has not been easy for him since he became a democratically elected president six years ago.
He, however, stressed that his administration had succeeded in easing out corrupt public officials without making noise about it.
Buhari recalled that much was achieved in the fight against corruption when he was military Head of State in the early 80s “when a lot of people were sent to prisons before I was also booted out”.
The president frowned at the way and manner local government system was being managed, saying the local government administration was almost non-existent in the country.
He cited situation where state governors continued to starve the local governments of funds saying “in a situation where N300million is allocated to local government and they are given N100million is not fair”.
On activities of bandits and kidnappers particularly in the North-West and North-Central zones, Buhari said he had given the police and Armed Forces the instructions to be ruthless with bandits and vandals terrorising innocent citizens across the country.
He stated that he had told the security agencies to treat bandits and other criminals in the “the language they understand.
“Problem in the north-west; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages.
“Like I said, we are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be difference.
”Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble.
“We are already in enough trouble. So, we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference,’’ he said.
On farmers/herders clashes, the president said the problem had persisted because old cattle routes and grazing areas had been violated by development, adding that those who had taken over such traditional arrangements would be dispossessed.
On the fight against insurgency, Buhari dismissed the assertion that majority of Boko Haram members were foreigners.
According to him, the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians, saying this was further corroborated by Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Zulum.
The president stated that his administration had done a lot to fight the terrorists and insurgents but the problem in the “North-East is very difficult.”
Igboho Declares June 12 Day Of Protest, Warns Buhari
Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, has declared June 12 as day of protest for Yoruba nation agitators.
The self-acclaimed Yoruba activist said the agitators will hold ‘peaceful rallies’ across the South-West region on Saturday, June 12.
Igboho, who spoke through his spokesman, Olayomi Koiki, in a live video programme aired, last Wednesday night, called on South-West governors to cooperate with the peaceful protesters during the exercise.
He warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration not to attack the agitators.
He said, “Let us warn the Federal Government that if there is bloodshed this weekend, the international community is watching, if the military kills any Nigerian this weekend, it is going to be very hot.
“The Yoruba nation rally will go ahead in every part of Yoruba land and the rest of the country where it will hold.
“Red alarm will begin on Friday. People should stock up food Items from Friday night.
“We are not backing down this weekend; we are ready to take back what belongs to us.”
He also enjoined agitators to ‘fast’ on Friday.
This is coming after NANS under the leadership of its National President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, had declared June 12 as National Day of peaceful protest to call on the government to act decisively towards addressing insecurity.
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