There may be a fresh round of protest within oil rich Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta state following alleged gross marginalization and ‘divide and rule’ by American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL.
This is coming barely one week after a similar allegations led to Itsekiris of Ugborodo Community carrying out a protest which grounded operations of Chevron in Escravos, Warri South West Council Area.
BIGPEN ONLINE learnt that there have been palpable fear in Gbaramatu Kingdom over protest buildup by youths who may likely occupy CNL facilities, the same way Ugborodo youths and women took over Chevron facilities in Escrovos few weeks ago.
Sources revealed that protest is building up over same issue of unemployment and shore degradation/erosion menace facing the area which led to the peaceful protest by Ugborodo people and culminated with the dialogue between Delta State Government and representatives of Ugborodo and Chevron management.
A source said that the alleged deliberate moves to sideline neighboring Ijaw communities of Gbaramatu Kingdom from the negotiations talk may spark another round of agitations and protest against Chevron.
The General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs of CNL, Mr. Esimaje Brikinn couldn’t be reached to comment on this report as at press time on Sunday but the spokesman of Gbaramatu Traditional Council -of-Chief, Godspower Gbenekama confirmed the development.
He said that it was actually the traditional ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, Oboro Gbaraun II, Aketekpe (Agadagba), that has been holding the agitating youths down for the past one week when the Ugborodo protest broke out.
According to him, the youths were moved to join forces with Ugborodo people since they are faced with same environmental degradation problem but were prevailed upon to sheath their sword and allow stakeholders to handle the issues.
Gbenekama however expressed displeasure that while the monarch whom he said deserved commendation, was doing everything possible to ensure the protest doesn’t escalate, Chevron alongside the Delta State Government, though BIGPEN ONLINE couldn’t independently verify this information, met with Ugborodo people without carrying the neighbouring Ijaw communities of Gbaramatu along.
He said that the development which was detrimental to the relative peace in the area would spark crisis if not properly address because Ijaw youths may also become frustrated with the ‘divide and rule’ tactics of Chevron, NNPC and NAPTIMS to occupy oil facilities in their domains just to press home their plight.
The Niger Delta activist and prominent Ijaw leader, said that if Itsekiri with their various employment stake in Chevron can rise up to champion an occupation protest against the American oil firm, then Gbaramatu Kingdom which suffers huge brunt of oil exploration activities with nothing to show for it would have more to agitate about.
He urged Chevron and the Delta state government not to wait until the youths resort to protest against the worrisome environmental degradation from Abiteye flow station (Chevron swamp headquarters), Makaraba flow station, and Utunana flow station before the benefit that should accrue to them are released.
“The government should be proactive, Chevron, NNPC and NAPTIMS should be proactive enough to ensure that the host communities of Gbaramatu Kingdom even Egbema are called to a round-table to discuss issues of mutual interest or else it might be difficult for the royal majestic to hold down the youths who may decided to also stage a peaceful protest”.
According to him, whatever that affects Ugborodo people affects Gbaramatu Kingdom because they leave in same terrains and suffers from same oil exploration activities, saying if Ugborodo people that has three key management positions in Chevron can muscle up protest, then Ijaw of Gbaramatu and Egbema who doesn’t have one of these offices have a lot to protest over.
While commending Ugborodo people, particularly the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayirimi Emami for ensuring the peaceful nature of the protest, Gbenekama posit that whatever discussions that is taking place concerning oil exploration activities and it’s attendant effect of environmental degradation, shore protection failure, gross marginalization, failure to patronize the locals for contract awards, employment opportunities, that doesn’t involve Gbaramatu Kingdom would be unacceptable and resisted.
“To avoid the mother of all protest, the government and Chevron should do the needful and involve the Ijaw of Gbaramatu Kingdom in any discussions taking place. As the spokesman of the council the onus is on me to warn and I have warned the government and Chevron because we would not fold our hands and watch things being done wrongly to our detriment”, Gbenekama added.