Hundreds of aggrieved youths from Delta state host communities to OML 30 and some ex-agitators from phases one to three of the Federal Government amnesty programme, on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 protested to the state Government House in Asaba over an alleged hijacking of surveillance contract of the Trans-Forcados Pipeline.
It took the combined efforts of various security agencies to calm down the protesters, owing to their large turnout.
The protesters called on Governor Okowa to intervene to avoid crisis in the state as a result of the re awarding of the surveillance contracts to people who are not familiar with the terrain.
Mr Tennyson Oriunu, in an address on behalf of the aggrieved youths, claimed that about a thousand angry youths and ex-agitators from the 111 communities of Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri and Isoko ethnic nationalities who are hosts to the OML 30 facilities, had earlier come to Asaba to make a complain about the unwholesome development but government failed to act.
He said that they have frowned at directives of some companies ploy to start another war in the host communities and in Delta State by hijacking the surveillance contract of the Trans-Forcados Pipeline, in one of the most shady contract deals.
Responding to the protesters’ claims, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, called on those who are trying to foment crisis in the state using oil surveillance contract as a ploy to desist as such could cause economic challenges to the nation.
According to the governor who came out from the state security council meeting to address the protesters, “This protest is happening on the day we are holding our security council meeting and the security agencies are here; the agencies have been working hard with the support of our people and our youths to keep the Trans Forcados line safe and we thank God that because of the safety of that pipeline the oil production of this nation has increased.”
“I want to advise that whosoever is plotting against the people, those who are benefiting and through the process of surveillance contracts are being empowered, should allow Delta state remain peaceful, because, in peace, we will be able to produce and export more crude oil and in that export the nation and the state gains,”
“It is our hope that nobody especially as the oil prices are going down should take any action that will foil the quantity of oil that we are currently producing,” he stated while calling on the protesters to remain peaceful as his administration would take necessary actions to address their grievances.
He emphasized, “we have held series of meetings with stakeholders and we have long agreed to the fact that it is best to secure our pipelines when we are in charge by ourselves; you cannot come and watch over someone else’s backyard; the people who own the place know best how to protect their property and if since June 2017 that the Trans Forcados line has been open, it has been functional and our oil production and export has continued to increase and there has been no complain; I will find it very disturbing if a new contract is being awarded not to talk about awarding the said contract under a higher cost; that will definitely not be responsible and I believe that Mr. President will not accept this; I am very confident that he will not support such a cause and I do not believe that the Nigerian nation who realizes that as at today we still heavily depend on the proceeds from oil and if our oil production has improved to the level that we have some level of comfort as a nation and as a state, I do not think that an action that will lead to the disruption of our oil production and export is something that will be welcome.
“Our nation is doing well and anything that is being done that will cause the reversal of the progress that we are making in terms of oil production will be an economic sabotage and I believe that any action being taken now to re-award the surveillance job to a new company that will come to displace the locals will be an economic sabotage and I do not think that is what we will support as a state, so, we are asking you to please be patient since you have decided to follow the due process to protest peacefully; we thank and appreciate you for the information that you have passed to us; we will act as quickly as possible to ensure that there will be no disruption to the progress that we are making thus far.”