By Onome Oghenetega
Hundreds of youths from Sapele town in Delta State, on Wednesday, demanded for the immediate removal of the chairman, Board of Directors, Seplat Energy PLC, Mr. Basil Omiyi and members of the board for reportedly promoting racism, bullying and intimidation of company staff.
The protesting youths also called for the removal of the board of directors over their refusal to sack the embattled Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy PLC, Mr. Roger Brown.
At Wednesday’s peaceful protest, the youths drawn from the various host communities in Sapele, accused Mr. Omiyi of conniving with other board members to stop the removal of Mr. Brown.
The youths, who besieged the operating headquarters of the Seplat in Sapele, described the decision of the federal government through the Minister of Interior which revoked the work permit of Mr. Brown for alleged bullying and racism as good for the company’s image.
Recall that the court had restrained Mr. Brown from parading himself as the Seplat’s CEO pending the determination of a suit filed against him and others by aggrieved stakeholders of the company.
The protest is coming on the heels of recent revocation of the work permit of the embattled Mr. Brown by the Federal Government.
But addressing journalists at the protest in Sapele, Okpe Youth President, Engr. Umukoro Dimbianimofa, further accused Mr Omiyi and the Mr. Brown of neglecting youths of the host communities in employment.
According to the youths, “Our attention has been drawn to the good decision of the Minister of Interior to cancel Mr Roger Brown’s work permit. Instead of obeying this noble decision of the federal government, and look into the critical issue of racism against MR. Brown, Mr Omiyi announced vote of confidence for a racist foreigner, who is a mere employee. Mr Omiyi and his Board should be ashamed of themselves for telling Mr Roger Brown to continue working without work permit. They should obey court order.”
The placard carrying youths who chanted solidarity songs along the road, lamented that in spite of the fact that the Ministry of Interior had cancelled Mr Brown’s permit, Mr Omiyi has refused to let him go.
Some of the inscription the placards include; “Our Collective Effort is Simple, The MD SePlat Must Go,” “The MD Has Sown a Seed of Discord Among the People, This is An Abomination,” Seplat Board and Roger, Stop All the Lies,” “Stop Bullying Our Community Staff, ” Respect Our Community Leaders,” etc.
Dimbianimofa said the community have been cooperative with Seplat over the years but regretted that Seplat has continued to neglect the youths of the community.
Reeling out the youths’ demands, he said : “Seplat must sack Roger Brown immediately; For supporting a racist CEO, Mr Omiyi and the Board must go”.
“Employ our youths as full staff, not slave contract staff; Stop bullying staff; Bring back the Technical Department of Seplat from Aberdeen to Nigeria”, he said.
He lamented that the youths in Sapele community have turned to motorcycle riders in order to earn a living for themselves even when they have an oil company in their community.
He also accused Seplat of intimidation of community staff in the company adding that despite the cries of the staffers in various social media platforms, Mr Omiyi has kept mute.
The youths therefore, demanded for the employment of their youths, stop bullying staffers and bring back the technical department of Seplat from Aberdeen to Nigeria.
“The reason why we are here protesting today is because of the marginalisation and intimidation of an oil company in our land, Seplat Energy PLC.
“We want our youths to be employed because unemployment brings backwardness and is a disease. Scholarship from Seplat has been a mirage. There is no employment, there is no empowerment for our youths and women.
“We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and other relevant authorities to come to our aid. We want peace because without peace no meaningful development could take place anywhere,” said Engr. Dimbianimofa.
One of the protesters who gave her name as Mrs Faith Nyerovwho appealed to the government to wade into the plight of the community.
“There are no jobs for the community youths. It is only the outsiders that they are employing in Seplat. There is no scholarship for our children and the suffering in the community is too much. We need the Federal Government to come to our aid,” Mrs Nyerovwho said.
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