Friday, June 14, 2019 8:41 am
Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers on Thursday in Port Harcourt warned that the government would no longer tolerate the shutting down of oil production facilities by communities in the state.
He gave the warning at a meeting with Chairmen of Cluster Development Boards in Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema Local Government Areas, as well as Oil Companies and security agencies at the Government House.
Wike also said that under no circumstances should communities take laws into their hands by preventing oil production companies from working.
He directed the immediate revival of the State Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards responsible for intervening between the companies and communities.
He said: “I will not support any company not to carry out their corporate social responsibilities to their host communities.
“However, communities must not take laws into their hands. They must not stop production by the operating companies.
“Such actions will negatively affect the finances of the Federal Government, the state and the local government areas.’’
He said in cases where companies failed to act within the expectations of the communities, the State Government will mediate through the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards.
“It is important that we do not allow crisis to occur in the communities. The Aeroton rig in one community was seized.
“That rig should be allowed to work. I called this meeting because of the concerns raised by the operating companies in the area,’’ he said.
Wike said that the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards would have the Permanent Secretary, Community Development, Security Agencies, Community Development Clusters and oil companies as members.
According to the governor, the committee will meet at regular intervals to address challenges in order to forestall escalation of conflicts.
He regretted that most problems in the Niger Delta are caused by oil companies who patronise and engage with criminal elements to the disadvantage of the host communities.
In a remark, former Commissioner of Environment, Mr. Samuel Horsfall, alleged that thought the oil companies knew the right things to do, but they never take the right steps.
He also alleged that the oil companies even refused to recognise Council Chairmen who were the direct links to the respective communities.
An official of one of the Cluster Development Boards, Mr Charles Sekibo, denied seizing the rig of one of the oil companies.
He said that his community had been providing needed support for the company to engage in production.
The Managing Director of Aeroton, Mr Ebiaho Emafo, said that nobody had the right to stop the production of oil companies.
He said that the company spent about N3 billion on community developments even when it was struggling to make ends meet.