By Eseoghene Emuke
The Ijaw Youth Council has once chided Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL) over its alleged indebtedness to indigenous contractors of OML 30 in the Niger Delta region.
IYC insisted that Heritage is indebted to local contractors, alleging that the oil firm was using divide and rule tactics among host communities.
Heritage has, however, denied the allegation by Ijaw youths body, saying some of the contracts being claimed by the local contractors were not verifiable.
OML 30, the second largest Oil Mining Lease after Nembe in Bayelsa State is operated by Heritage on behalf of its joint ventures.
In a statement by its President, Eric Omare, IYC dismissed the response by the oil firm that it was not owing any contractor in its area of operation.
According to it, “The attention of the Ijaw Youth Council has been drawn to a statement issued by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited on Tuesday March 24, 2020 in response to our press briefing denying that it owns local contractors who have done jobs for them for several months and years.
“The IYC wishes to state in response that Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited lied in saying that it is not owning contractors in its host communities. It is common knowledge in the host communities to Heritage and close watches of events relating to Heritage management of OML 30, that inability to pay contractors and discharge contractual obligations have become a common feature in the affairs of Heritage which has led to protest against the company both at its Warri and Lagos offices.
“Only Saturday March 22, in a panicky response to the IYC press release, Heritage met with some of the leaders of its cluster (GMOU) communities in Lagos where it agreed to pay some of its indebtedness to the contractors who are leaders of GMOU and Clusters.
“This response was another divide and rule strategy which has become common with Heritage operations in OML 30. Instead of Heritage to take steps to pay all the contractors their indebtedness irrespective of the contractors status in their host communities, it decided to only address their indebtedness to a few leaders in their host communities so as to compromise them from speaking on the matter.
“We wish to remind Heritage that companies that have adopted divide and rule tactics as a company policy in the past in the Niger Delta region have ended up selling their assets because in the end the people would resist them. This would surely be the case with Heritage if it continues with this same divide and rule strategy.”
Omare reiterated IYC calls for the Federal Government to revoke the operational license of Heritage, saying its operation had doubled and impoverished the people of the host communities.
“Consequently, we reiterate our call for the cancellation of the operational license of Heritage because they are incompetent and not financially viable to operate an Oil mining Lease.
“The host communities to Heritage are experiencing an unprecedented poverty because of Heritage deliberate refusal to pay local contractors while transporting the money realised from their communities to other parts of the country and abroad.
“We also call on the relevant committees of the Senate and House of Representatives to investigate the oppressive conducts of Heritage against its host communities. We are ready to bring the facts and evidence against them in such a public hearing”, the statement added.