An agro-allied company operating in Rivers State, Siat Nigeria Limited has successfully brokered a truce with its host communities in Etche Local Government Area, with a firm promise to continue to provide employment opportunities, contracts and other incentives to the communities.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Felix Nwabuko, who unfolded the package of incentive to the communities during a peace meeting brokered by the Executive Chairman of the local government, Hon Obinna Anyanwu at the firm’s corporate headquarters in Ubima last Tuesday assured that the firm would continue to have credible interface and interactions with its host communities based on the goodwill it shared with them.
Nwabuko, who gave the assurance based on the demands presented to the company by representatives of the communities, ranging from extension of its electricity project to Ozuzu, Isu and Ogida communities, employment, Memorandum of Understanding and appointment of Community, Liaison Officer (CLO) to request for landlords association, payment of stipends to traditional rulers, unpaid arrears of rent and contract jobs, among others, said the company was committed to meeting its corporate social responsibilities to the communities.
The Tide recalls that in the wake of the recent protest staged by the communities, the firm had directed each of the five communities to submit names of 10 persons to be employed into the firm, a gesture which the managing director said would be improved upon from time to time. .
According to him, “when we look at employment, we are not going to debate or rationalise this. We have our statistics of who is employed and from where in this company. We are very happy to ensure that we look at host communities for jobs. And you have heard today that proactively, they have asked for names of people. As we have started it, we are going to improve upon that”.
He also directed the communities to apply for the position of Community Liaison Officer (CLO), which the company had already advertised for, saying, “if we can get somebody who is competent and credible from the host communities, that is a plus. It opens door for professionalism. It is not an allocation job.”
On payment of arrears of unpaid rent to the host communities, the managing director disclosed that the management of the company had already championed the issue with the Rivers State Government.
“Government today is sympathetic to that issue. There is a file on that. The day that file is finalised, this issue of unpaid arrears of rent will be a thing of the past”, he said, adding that the company had already requested the communities to provide it with credible records on the issue..
He also promised that the company would pay stipends to deserving traditional rulers in the communities. “I know that we pay something as of now but not to the entire traditional rulers. We will sit down and look at the issue of traditional rulers”, he assured.
The Chairman of Etche Local Government Area, Hon Obinna Anyanwu, who led delegates of the host communities to the meeting, requested that the names for employment submitted to the company by the communities should be revisited, and also called for the conversion of casual security staff working in the company to permanent staff.
While describing Etche people as peace-loving, the council chairman said the people did not ask for too much during their presentation, and urged the management of the firm to reciprocate the peaceful disposition of the communities.
“The management of Siat, you know that for you to do business anywhere and make profit, you must ensure that the environment is okay”, he said.
Apart from the Managing Director of Siat Nigeria Limited, Mr Felix Nwabuko, the Chief Operating Officer of the company, Mr Gerald Ray and its Relations Manager, Mr Lucky Ezihuo also attended the meeting.
Delegates of the communities who attended the meeting included the Director, Quality Assurance/Chairman, Professional Ethics, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Prof Samuel Amaele, the Ochimba of Ihie Community, Eze Josiah Nwaguru, Eze Mathew Elekwachi, Eze Emmanuel Victor, Hon Israel Okoroafor, the President Ozuzu Youth, Mr Kingdom Aforoele and Chairman, Isu Community Development Committee (CDC), Mr Amadi Simeon, among others.