By Anayo Onukwugha, Port Harcourt
Workers and visitors of multinational oil giant, Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) were trapped for several hours yesterday when protesters from its host communities in Rivers State blocked the main entrance into the company’s office in Port Harcourt.
The protesters, under the aegies of Concerned Landlords of Land and Swamp Areas, who were joined by the leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), accused NAOC of marginalising the host communities in the area of employment and implementation of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Some of the placards displayed by the protesters read: “NAOC, why the disrespect and disregard for local content policies”, “NAOC, enough of injustice of your host landlords”, “NAOC must give employment to host families/communities”, amongst others.
Speaking with newsmen at the scene of the protest, director-general of Concerned Landlords of Land and Swamp Areas, Onisoya Odum, said the host communities will declare force majeure on NAOC facilities if their demands were not addressed.
Odum said: “We have come here to let them know that if any of our demands are not met, we are not giving them a timeline, but we believe that they are responsible enough and learned to address these issues as soon and as fast as possible.
“Failure to do that, we will be left with no other option but to declare a force majore on Agip facilities. We will shut down their operations; let them know how we feel. For how long are they going to be cheating us? For how long are they going to be marginalizing us?”
He stated that since 1958 when NAOC started exploration activities in their communities, there was nothing on ground to show for it.
Odum said: “If these our demands are not met, we will be forced to declare force majore in all their operational areas in our land. Are we not qualified enough to occupy these positions? How can you come to our land, take our resources and take everything away.
“For how long are we going to continue like this? We have been too patient and they have been taking us for a ride. Enough is enough. Agip is a company that will deceive our people, sign MOU and they will not fullfil it.
“Let this company tell us their employment quota. How many of our landlords are employed in this company? Since 1958 when they started operations in our communities, nothing has happened to us. They have decided to use security agencies to intimidate us so that we can keep quite. Enough is enough.”