By Onome Oghenetega
The people of Ebedei in Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State have protested what they described as gross marginalization by oil companies operating in the area.
Ebedei community accused the different oil firms operating in their domain of neglecting them as their host.
The protesters comprising of women, youths and the elderly from Adonishaka and Ogbe-Uzu of the community also further accused the oil companies of allegedly sponsoring few individuals to cause crisis in the community.
Speaking at the protest weekend, the leader of the protesters, Engr. Chukwunalu Isaac, lamented that instead of the companies dealing directly with land owners in the community they are busy sponsoring few individuals to cause unrest among their host.
Chukwunalu stated, “We have been grossly marginalized over the years and we have tried to no avail to see that we have a roundtable discussion with these companies time and again but they keep neglecting us hence we came out today to register our dissatisfaction and to tell Platform Petroleum Ltd, PNG Gas Ltd and Power Gas, Ebedei that enough is enough.”
While warning that they would no longer tolerate further neglect and failure by the oil firms to honour various MoUs with the community, they called on the state government to intervene before the disagreement snowballed into a major crisis.
Chukwunalu, while reeling some of the community demands, said “that Platform Petroleum Ltd/PNG Gas Ltd should hence forth desist from remitting the proceeds from her loading operations (landing fees) to any party or faction pending the determination of the case in court or resolve via any other means.
“That the land owners of Adonishaka/Ogbe-Uzu should be allowed unconditionally to participate in all MOU issues with Platform Petroleum Ltd/PNG Gas Ltd and Power Gas Ltd, in Ebedei as declared in the Delta State Gazette as stated by the Ministry of Oil and Gas.
“That the choice of Oji Chukwuneku who is from Ogbe-Uzu for a Security position with Platform Petroleum Ltd as replacement for Okolocha Philip who is from Adonishaka negates the principles of equity and fairness and such should be reversed with immediate effect with someone from Adonishaka.
“That all funds accrued to Land Owners from the proceeds of Platform Petroleum Ltd should be released/remitted to her unconditionally.
“That Power Gas Ltd should as a matter of urgency present herself for a meeting earlier scheduled with the Land Owners of Adonishaka/Ogbe-Uzu communities at the home of her Head and Chief presiding officer of the Land Owners.
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“That Platform Petroleum Ltd should with immediate effect disburse funds meant for scholarship and skill acquisition running into the second year.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman, Ukwuani Local Government, Hon. CSP Ajede has assured Adonishaka community that the council will preside dispassionately between the companies and the community and ensure that whatever demands the community have will be looked into critically and addressed.
He appealed to the protesters to calm down and retire to their various homes and rest while the council will schedule a meeting with all parties involved and addressed dispassionately.
Ajede, commended the people for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner even while protesting, stressing that his “administration is committed to peace and security in all communities across the LGA and as such the pain of Ebedei people is my pain, I will not abandon my people for any reason.”