The people of Umudiaga Community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State have shut down the Ahia flow station, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on behalf of its Joint Venture Partners.
The community, which expressed its discontent with Shell through a peaceful protest, also gave one week ultimatum to the company to give electricity to the community or have its operations grounded.
Addressing the protesting crowd at the Shell facilities located within the community, last Wednesday, the Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman, Barr Emeka Ogbugo, said the protest was an expression of the community’s disapproval of the company’s continuous negligence of the plight of Umudiaga people.
He said: “The community has suffered for over 50 years despite the presence of Shell in the area. Apart from the one kilometer road constructed by Shell since 1961, there is nothing to show in the community in terms of development.
“Shell gave us electricity that didn’t last for two years. We have a flow station that gathers oil from other communities, yet our community is highly neglected in infrastructural and human capital development”.
He explained that several letters had been written to Shell to address the issues of electricity in the community, but such requests were turned down.
The CDC chairman vowed that the Shell facilities would remain shut down until the community gets a positive response from the company and demanded that the community should be connected to the national grid, rather than being given light from the Shell flow station.
In his reaction, the youth leader, Comrade Daniel Akpelo Wosa, accused SPDC of marginalising the Umudiaga community, in terms of employment opportunities, scholarship and other social amenities.
The Umudiaga women leader, Comfort Chukwu, who also spoke during the protest, urged SPDC to improve on their community relations policies by giving the people a sense of belonging.
Efforts to get the reactions of the SPDC proved abortive as calls made to the company’s Corporate Affairs Manager were not successful.
By: Taneh Beemene
Eroton E & P Launches Projects In Okrika
As part of efforts to improve the living standard of the host communities in Rivers State, an oil company, Eroton Exploration and Production, with its joint venture partner, has commissioned some life-impacting projects in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Some of the projects executed include, renovation of six classroom blocks at Okrika National College, construction and equipment of ICT Centre, school library and science laboratory at Comprehensive Secondary School, Ibaka, and commissioning of solar powered water project, and 1,500 capacity ultra-modern town hall at Okochiri kingdom.
The Tide reports that the projects were executed under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) platform managed by Wakirike Cluster Development Board.
Eroton E&P is a joint venture partner with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the operation of Oil Mining License (OML)18, covering Alakiri and Orubiri fields in Okrika, which until 2014 belonged to Shell.
Speaking at the event last Friday in Okochiri, the Managing Director/CEO, Eroton E&P, Ebiaho Emafo, represented by the company’s Chief Security Officer, Pere Abare, commended the peaceful disposition of the people, saying the projects could not have been completed without the cooperation of the host communities.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Emele Kolo Kyari, represented by NAPIMS Public Affairs Officer, Mrs Tolupe Derin-Adefuwa, said NNPC through the joint venture partner, bore about 55% cost of the several community development projects across the country.
She stated that JV partners had also embarked on education, health, water project and physical infrastructures, urging the host communities to consolidate on the existing peace for business to thrive.
The chairman, Okrika Local Government Council, Philemon Iwoloma Kingoli, while commending the company for the gesture, expressed his displeasure over the absence of regular electricity supply in Okrika, in spite of the abundance of gas and the presence of NNPC refinery in the area.
He also charged Eroton to employ indigenes of the cluster development area.
The Wakirike Cluster Development Board (WCDB) secretary, Barr. Benibo Tamunosusu Alayemieka, said that in spite of the projects commissioned, there were other on-going projects in the area which include, shore protection project at Ofiaminama community, fish farm project, oversees scholarship awards to post-graduate students and 200 students preparing for West African School Certificate Examination in Okrika, each year.
Others are donation of 1,000 school desks, 100 tables, chairs and books to secondary schools.
Why We Are Disconnecting Defaulting Customers – PHED
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, (PHED), has explained why it has embarked on mass disconnection of defaulting customers in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers States.
In a release made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt, the Manager, Corporate Communications of the company, John Onyi, said the mass disconnection ‘ ‘Operation Storm’ was initiated by the management in order to sustain PHED and the power sector from imminent collapse.
He said that the huge debt owed the company amounting to over N166.012billion as at October 2019 was no longer tolerable, hence the need to recover it at all cost.
The exercise according to him, will continue until every kobo is recovered for energy consumed.
“Every defaulting customer in our franchise area will be visited and disconnected by dedicated Task Force teams on constant patrol “, Onyi said.
The spokesman said he could not understand why the defaulting customers have seen electricity as a social service, adding that the misconception should be changed.
He however, noted that help desk has been created across PHED offices to resolve and reconcile any contentious bill.
The statement urged customers with disputable bill to avail themselves the opportunity by visiting any PHED office closest to them for on the spot bill reconciliation.
PHED also assured its commitment to improve on service delivery to its customers but, emphasised the need for the gesture to be complemented through payment of electricity bill.
Surviving Economic Realities In 2020s
Heraclitus of Ephesus, a Greek philosopher of the late 6th Century, in his famous apothegm said, “The only constant is Change”. Literally, whether change is desired or not is inconsequential as it occurs independently; devoid of assents or prior notice. And the earlier people prepared their mind for it, the better as it is inevitable. This is thus, a clarion demand for reprogramming the minds to adapt as it occurs. Not even resistance deters it except to be left behind; an unhealthy option.
Typically, the major and fastest agent of change is civilization which everyone profoundly cherishes. Nobody in their right senses will kick against civilization due to the comfort, speed and productivity it offers. However, the bad side of it is, the same pace it opens new opportunities to the sensitive minds, is also how it pushes out the indolent and conservative minds out of jobs and businesses.
For example, the evolution of modern computers; Central Processing Units (CPUs) and laptops sent conservative typists and typewriter-merchants that were insensitive to upgrade out of jobs and businesses. Similarly, online shopping has become the most utilised medium across the world thereby affecting daily sales of shop owners. Arguably, technological advancement is moving fast.
Presently, foodstuffs including fresh tomatoes, potatoes, vegetables and even native cooked foods are ordered online and delivered with ease in Nigeria. Likewise, the usual taxi business which required people to board on the road is being overtaken by connected system which can access, negotiate variety of taxis in the comfort of the living rooms.
Churches are not left out as people in the comfort of their homes now actively participate in church services same way as onsite worshippers. In banking industry, higher volume of transactions are currently done virtual which reduces human activities in the banking halls alongside overhead costs. Of course, by design, banks are profit-oriented and not charity organizations, hence, will always switch over to most cost-effective system.
Conversely, the labour market is adversely affected as technology drops human activities thereby increasing unemployment ratios. Even those already in employment are likely to face more retrenchments as their services can be rendered cheaper and more efficiently through technological revolution.
For emphasis, on September 3, 2019, an energy firm, Oando Plc, sacked about 100 workers. Similarly, on November 21, 2019, First Bank of Nigeria recorded a mass sack of staff numbering over 1000 across the federation. The record goes on. The umbrella body of the workers; National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) threatened fire and brimstone to reverse the action.
Though the solidarity was commendable, unfortunately, NUBIFIE forgot the employers’ obligation to discharge employees is to be laid off accordingly. The union overlooked to do a feasibility study vis-à-vis the management’s unflinching action, without any panic against possible collapse of the bank by the volume of the retrenchment. This is a critical oversight.
For instance, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can now withdraw and also collect deposits into customers account in few seconds. The implication is that scores of contract staff that mount the tellers may be drastically reduced to virtually zero. Believably, all banks are working in that directions which implies that more retrenchments are looming particularly in the banking sector in the new decade.
Realistically, NUBIFIE and other unions may not do much to counter the trend. This is because they cannot provide the funds to subsidize overhead costs; to secure their members’ jobs. Convincingly, the bank discovered an alternative mode to handle operations without such a crowd of employees. To call a spade, a spade, the sacks were no accidental discharge but necessitated by profit maximization which is its major goal.
Laudably, a leading financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA), recently recorded a massive recruitment drive of about 4000 new staff alongside promotion of 5000 existing staff members with inspiring increments. However, the truth must be told. Industrialized economy is rapidly succumbing to digitalized economy.
The top-secret is technological innovation that economically, efficiently handles human tasks. In other words, repositioning is crucial. A stitch in time they say, saves nine. Sensibly, those not considering modern economy are vulnerable to be victims of the contemporary economic dynamics. Another bitter truth is that government alone cannot provide the much needed jobs for the high number of unemployed population.
However, governments must obligatorily provide the enabling environments for businesses to thrive. Economy must be stimulated and made attractive for investors. And essentially, insecurity must be unrelentingly wrestled not merely by empowering security agents but creating jobs for unemployed populations alongside empowerment with skills acquisitions. Government must meet these critical demands.
Interestingly, the most striking feature of the new economic direction is that it can empower distressed persons from zero level to financial independence without capital unlike the phasing-out industrialized economy. Above all, it creates secure incomes alongside conventional vocations. Instructively, most of the capitalists in the developed economies do not survive by commonplace hustling but connected economy.
Thus, whilst it is ideal to have exciting new year resolutions, big dreams and accept nice predictions, efforts must be put in top gear to think outside the box. People should expediently, ardently consider realignment. By the rapidity of technological advancement in the world, it is obvious a lot of employments may be in danger.
The way out is to embrace the modern economy to run with the changes against the challenges. Connected economy, distinctively, thrives by merely building relationships and fostering connections, rather than assets (money) and stuffs as exists in industrialized economy. However, extreme caution is required as scammers have infiltrated digitalized economy knowing it is the new face of the world economy.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst.
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