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Host community threatens to shut oil facility tomorrow

– Absence of firm’s MD stalls Delta government’s truce meeting

Umusadege community in Ndokwa West Council of Delta State has threatened to shut the operation of an oil company operating in the area if the managing director fails to show up tomorrow to discuss the death of two indigenes working for the company.

It expressly declared unwillingness to discuss with anyone, except the MD.

The meeting initiated by Delta State government to reconcile the community with the oil firm yesterday suffered a setback, as unfavorable flight weather reportedly prevented the MD from attending the Asaba meeting.

The stakeholders’ parley was cut short after two hours of wait, with only the government, community and company representatives present.

The Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Emmanuel Amgbaduba, after a minute silence on behalf of the slain workers, said he agreed with the community’s position, promising to reconvene the meeting later this week and end the misunderstanding once and for all.

He said, “Because of the seriousness of this meeting, and what has transpired recently, which has led to this gathering, the state government has decided to shift this meeting, to afford the MD the opportunity to be a part of this very important deliberation. I appeal to the Umusadege community to allow us to come up with a new date.

“I can see that tempers are high and emotions are also. But my appeal is for us to remain calm so that at the end of the day we shall find a middle ground. The Ndokwa people I know are very peaceful. That does not mean that they should be taken for granted. They have lost two sons, yet they have remained calm, which goes to show their appreciable level of patience. Yes, we agree that we have to get by with all these as soon possible, for a peaceful working environment.”

He reiterated his stance that adhering to Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between oil and gas companies and host communities would enhance peace, “and the government would not support divide-and-rule system, just as I am reassuring that all issues raised by the people would be discussed at the stakeholders’ meeting to avert recurrence.”

Responding, on behalf of the community, Chief Dennis Okoh, said that based on their experience with the company, they expected a botched meeting, while promising to abide by the government’s decisions.

“We are aware that this postponement will happen, because the company is not taking us as seriously as they should. Please I want us to take home one fact: that Umusadege is no longer sleeping. It is not going to be business as usual.

“We are not ready to take it anymore. If there is anybody being used to foment trouble in Umusadege, we are not going to take it kindly with such people. The reason the company continues playing pranks here is that they are making money. Supposing their facilities remained shut, the MD would have been here. The security agencies they are relying on are humans who are also aware of the issues at stake. We don’t want trouble. We are pleading for peace to reign,” he asserted.

Head of the community Secretariat, Chief Lucky Efe, remarked, “The company seems not ready to reciprocate our kind gestures. This meeting was scheduled through a letter sent out since last week and here we are talking about aborted flight. Our conclusion is that between now and Thursday, if this meeting is not held, and issues resolved amicably, we may have not a choice but to shut down the plant.”

On his part, Charles Emetulu (representing Ndokwa West in the House of Assembly) frowned on the postponement of the meeting, saying it was not going to be easy for some of them.

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