… Threaten to shut all oil explorations if 57 marginal oil field bidding not reversed

There is fresh crisis looming in the oil and gas industry as the people of the oil rich Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Council Area of Delta took to the street to protest alleged marginalization by the Federal Government.

The protesting communities led by the spokesman of the Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama lamented that the Federal Government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, has left them out in terms of development of their communities.

They vowed to shut down all oil exploration activities in their communities if their demands were not met, noting that as host communities to major International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the country, they deserve better.

The Gbaramatu communities said the continued, untoward, deplorable marginalization of the communities by the Federal Government has been brought to a head with the news of the recently announced bidding process for 57 marginal oil fields offered by the Department of Petroluem Resources (DPR).

Some of the inscription on the placards they carried read, “Gbaramatu Right of First Refusal in OML 57 is Sacrosanct,” “Kick-start Gbaramatu Deep Sea Port Now,” “Halt OML 57 Bidding Now,” “It’s Gbaramatu Turn to Produce Special Adviser on Presidential Amnesty,” “Give Us Electricity Or Nobody Will Have Electricity,” “Bring Back Our Dockyard Now,” etc.

In a press conference held shortly after the protest, the Gbaramatu Traditional Council of Chiefs demanded the immediate halt of the current bidding process for the 57 marginal oil fields until the Federal Government comes up with modalities where competent companies owned by Gbaramatu sons and daughters will be given the right of first refusal on fields located in Gbaramatu and within the Warri South West local government area of Delta.

“We are by this medium announcing our total and unequivocal objection to a bidding process that has for long excluded well to do, and capable Gbaramatu indigenes,” Gbenekama said.

They also demanded that the Federal Government restarts the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Gas Revolution Industrial Park, Ogidegben and the Deep Sea Port projects started by former President Goodluck Jonathan but abandoned by the Buhari administration.

The communities want the Federal Government to also restart the abandoned Omadino-Escravos Road project which they say would have led to “greater peaceful coexistence and dramatically improve economic relations between the neighboring communities.”

They also demanded the urgent and immediate relocation to Gbaramatu kingdom, the floating dockyard/ship building yard originally planned to be situated at the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.

“This is a massive slight not only on a kingdom that has partnered this government on peace initiative, but is also a blatant and ill-advised attempt to deprive students of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, such a brilliant learning opportunity. This is a good dereliction of duty and one we condemn this in the strongest possible terms,” they said.

They also went further to demand a clear path to employment and appointment opportunities for their capable sons and daughters.

“We have also noticed with dismay the blatant lopsided appointments into various National agencies with no room for Gbaramatu indigenes despite our stated high contribution to the National cake,” Gbenekama stated.

They stated that though they do not look forward to inflicting more financial burden on the Federal Government during these COVID-19 times, they will however, follow through their threat to shut down all oil exploration activities in their Communities if the Federal Government continues to marginalize them and ignore their demands.


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