From Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has waded into the crisis between Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and Oleh community in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Frosty relations between the company and the community took a twist when the community women held a three-day peaceful protest over the company’s refusal to pay compensation for cracked buildings, signing of a an MoU with the community and setting up of a flow station in the area.
The protest which was well publicised by the media attracted the attention of the Deputy Senate President, who directed his Senior Special Assistant on Community Relations, Conflict Resolution and Local Content Matters, Prince Christopher Agaga to look into the issues raised by the community.
At a peace meeting held at the weekend at Agip’s Main Yard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Omo-Agege decried the nonchalant attitude of the oil company towards the demands of the host community for a better deal and frowned at the use of the army for the sole aim of intimidating the host community from demanding for their rights.
Omo-Agege, however, commended the Agip and Oleh community for agreeing to resolve the crisis which he noted was in the best interest of all stakeholders.
“Our office got to know of the community’s protest from the media and was directed to deal with the situation immediately. While I commend the community for organizing a peaceful protest to drive home their demands, it is rather unfortunate that the company tried to shy away from their responsibilities by engaging the army to coerce them into abandoning their demands.
“As a responsible representative of the people, we find it very disturbing that issue of this kind is happening and the company is shying away from taking responsibility. Let me urge Agip and the community to ensure they tow the path of peaceful resolution of the crisis because it is in the best interest of the company, the community and the government to ensure harmonious relations to enable uninterrupted oil production.
“In the coming days we shall be meeting further to find permanent solution to the recurring disagreement,” he said.
NAOC Stakeholders Management and Community Development Division Manager, Dennis Masi, represented by Matwen Jitor, Assistant Manager Community Relations, reiterated the Company’s commitment in empowering and providing access to social infrastructure in its areas of operation, noting that this has always been the cardinal community relations policy of the company.
While appreciating Senator Omo-Agege’s intervention through his Senior Special Assistant whose mediating role, satisfied all the parties involved, also appealed to the community to sheathe their sword assuring that both parties will work together to ensure peace and development of the area through the policy of GMoU in their areas of operations.
He thanked the mediator, the Senior Special Assistant to the Deputy President of the Senate, Prince Christopher Agaga for the time he took to make sure that some of the critical issues were resolved with a promise of putting his best to achieve a total reconciliation within the next three weeks,”
Representative of Oleh community, Prince Oghogho Erube thanked the Deputy Senate President for wading into matter and urged Prince Agaga to use his good office to persuade Agip to accede to the community’s request in the interest of peace and justice within the next three weeks as agreed in the meeting at the weekend.