…Insists on new GMOU
Elders and women of Mgbala Agwa, Umuofeke Agwa and Umukpo Agwa Autonomous Communities in Oguta LGA of Imo State, the host communities to Sterling Global Oil Resources Ltd, on Saturday and Sunday trooped out in their numbers in peaceful protest and shut down operations at the company over what they said was years of neglect and marginalisation by the multinational oil company.
The protest which kicked off on Saturday led to the abrupt halt of activities as the protesting communities insisted no truck lifting oil would leave the facility until their demands were met.
The protesters arrived with extra clothings, canopies, chairs, food items, cooking gas, water and drinks and mounted their canopies on the access road, preventing vehicular movement.
The elders cooked their breakfast, lunch and dinner at the protest ground, even as they passed the night there, threatening to continue the protest until their requests were met.
Displaying their placards, the protesters lamented that they have nothing to show for the activities of the oil firm in their communities, adding that the only achievement the company has recorded is instigating crisis among them. The angry villagers also dropped a coffin at the center of the road, signalling the death of the oil firm.
According to a protest letter signed by representatives of the communitues: Prince Chidi Nwokocha (Ezembi), the President General of Mgbala Agwa Autonomous Community; Anyanwu Bathram, the President General for Umuofeke Autonomous Community; Onyemaechi Chukwuma, Community Developent (CDC) Chairman for Umukpo Agwa Autonomous Community; Goddey Nwabekee, Community Liaison Officer (CLO) for Mgbala Agwa Autonomous Community; Oduruwa Kelechi, CDC Chairman for Umuofeke Agwa Autonomous Community, and Chief Ernest Okedu, CDC Secretary for Umukpo Agwa, and submitted to the company on Saturday, the host communities lamented what they termed “unbearable flights in the hands of your company, Sterling Global Oil Resources Ltd, which has been operating in our communities since 2006/2007, a period of 15 years now”.
The host communities said the “unbearable plights have forced us to resolve to shutdown the operations of your company, hence this peaceful protest by our elderly men and women, who have suffered the untold but available hardships in the hands of Sterling”.
The communities recalled that the oil firm began operations in on their soil in 2006/2007, noting that “It is disheartening that Steeling has not lived up to its responsibilities towards the communities where it operates. Sterling is mandated by law and regulations to carry out certain obligations in the host communities. These obligations include employment opportunities to the people, award contracts, awars of scholarships and provision of amenities and infrastructures”.
They added: “It is shocking that Sterling has operated in breach of the laws, especially the local content law and other extant laws with impunity, for close to two decades of its operations in our communities. Your company has failed and neglected to obey the local content act in favour of our communities as contracts which our sons and daughters have capacities and capabilities to execute are flagrantly denied them and awarded to contractors from outside the host communities.
“Instead of complying with extant regulations, Sterling is rather stoking violence and crisis in our communities. The company believes that the communities would have enough distractions with the crisis and they would have all the time to dodge their responsibilities.
“Presently, Sterling lifts forty five (45) trucks of crude oil from our communities on daily basis. Locations preparation jobs, pipeline welding and mechanical jobs which our people have competences and capacity to do are awarded to contractors from outside our communities. We want these infractions to stop forthwith.
“It is global practice for an oil major to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the host communities before commencement of operations. Sterling has not done this but has rather employed all manners of tactics to frustrate all efforts towards writing a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) with the host communities”.
Consequently, the host communities requested the company to enter into a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) with them and conclude same in record time. They also requested the company to quickly initiate processes for the employment of our people especially for direct jobs.
The host communities further requested immediate commencement of development of infrastructures and amenities and that their people should be given contracts for which they have the competences to deliver, and the award of scholarships to their children, amongst others.
Responding on behalf of the company, Rt. Colonel Akama, the Chief Security Officer, commended the communities for their peaceful disposition, saying that he would convey their message to the Management of the company.