Ugborodo protests alleged Chevron’s neglect, gives FG 3 days to intervene

A three-day protest ended on Monday with a call by people of Ugborodo in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta on the Federal Government to compel Chevron Nigeria Ltd (CNL) to begin to address myriad of challenges holding back the progress of the community.

The aggrieved people, who converged at the perimeter fence of Chevron complex in a peaceful protest at Ode-Ugborodo, said the oil multinational had neglected the host communities for so long.

They consequently warned that should Chevron fail to heed to their demands in the next three days, they would invade the company’s facilities located in the community.

Tribune Online reports that Ugborodo, which comprises five communities namely: Madangho, Ajudaigbo, Arutan, Ijala and Ode-Ugborodo, and other sister communities in March 2019 enjoyed the inauguration of 52 two-bedroom detached bungalows, a town hall and an integrated agricultural farm.

The projects were built and inaugurated by the Itsekiri Regional Development Committee (IRDC), sponsored by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)/Chevron Nigeria Ltd Joint Ventures.

The scores of protesters, mostly youths of both male and female folks, brandished placards with inscriptions such as: “FG come to our aid”; “Chevron bring back 2002 MoU for peace to return”; and “Chevron, we need Madangho Cottage Hospital back in operation,” among others.

Chairman of Ugborodo communities, Mr Austin Oborogbeyi, while addressing the protesters, said over 300 metres of the land had been washed away by erosion.

Oborogbeyi, who attributed the development to the operational activities of Chevron, also said the oil multinational had also failed to employ or provide basic amenities for the people.

“We need proper shore protection, employment and basic amenities in Ugborodo.

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“More than 300 metres of our land to be modest have been washed away, streak of houses and electric poles have also been destroyed due to the Chevron’s operational vessels and service boats plying the Escrovos river continuously.

“The electric poles erected in the year 2000 were inside the community but today they are on the seashore.

“I assure you that if nothing is done in the next six months, the next poles over there will be gone.

“Chevron does not give us electricity neither do they give us water. We have made appeals severally all to no avail.

“They said they do not have the authority and we expected them to go where their authority is and do something.

“Chevron should protect our shore the way they did their own. They should meet the federal government for collaboration after all federal government has 60 per cent of whatever they are doing,” he said.

The community chairman said a letter has been mailed to Chevron headquarters in America on the development.

Also speaking, the youth president of Ugborodo, Mr Samuel Ukponu, urged Federal Government’ to quickly intervene.

“We do not want to see Chevron; we want the Petroleum Minister and the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to quickly intervene.

“If Chevron did not answer us in the next three days, they have their facilities in our communities, we will attack one of them,” he threatened.

One of the female folks, Mrs Faith Imosen, who spoke in pidgin, decried the unavailability of potable water for the communities, saying: “na gutter water we dey drink; it use to affect our health, some people dey swell while some use to get rashes on their bodies.

Meanwhile, CNL, in a swift reaction from the General Manager, Policy Government Public Affairs (PGPA), Mr Esimaje Brikinn, has debunked the allegations, saying it has been responsive the provision of social amenities in the Ugborodo communities through IRDC.

According to him, “…the allegations are not true. In fact, CNL has a long-standing relationship with the Ugborodo community which dates back to years before the establishment of its new community-driven participatory partnership model for community development known as the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU).

“The needs in many communities, including Ugborodo community, are many and varied requiring the support and intervention of multiple stakeholders to address.

“We are aware of this and through our GMoU governance model, we have involved other stakeholders, including the Niger Delta Development Commission, the State Government, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, NNPC and some non-governmental organizations in the developmental efforts.

“However, the Ugborodo community has been embroiled in leadership tussles which have hindered development in the community,” the PGPA boss noted.

Brikinn reiterated CNL’s commitment, “within available resources and opportunities, to continue working with its community stakeholders and other partners to maintain peace and contribute to sustainable community and socio-economic development.”