From Dickson S. Adama, Uyo
The oil spill which recently hit more than ten communities on the Ibeno shoreline in Akwa Ibom State has once again raised fresh concerns as its impact continues to take its toll on the lives and livelihoods of the people.
Apart from Ibeno Local Government Area, Esit Eket has also been affected by the spill which has been attributed to a damaged facility of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN).
The spillage has been causing some agitation among the youths while some have also threatened legal action should those concerned fail to address the problem and make necessary compensations.
The damaged oil facility which caused the spill has, however been blamed on the activities of hoodlums and vandals.
A youth leader in Ibeno and secretary of Ulok Ulok People’s Assembly, Mr. Godwin Robert, said the last oil spill case was the sixth in a short space of time and that it was destroying the environment.
Even though Robert attributed the cause of the spill to the recent repairs of pipelines destroyed by vandals some months ago, he expressed disappointment in the way the multinational oil company was treating the issue without regards to the hardship it has caused.
“It is unfortunate that the spill has impacted negatively on the ecosystem in the affected communities. The oil spill was traced to Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) installations located at Okposo, Atia, western end and eastern end of Ibeno communities.
“We expect the company to always promptly respond to any spillage so that its impact can be brought to the barest minimum. We are also expecting them to do a thorough cleanup and we are calling on the necessary authorities to do thorough investigation to ascertain the level of impact and damage this has done to the community,” he said.
He urged Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) to constitute a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to expedite action on the clean-up exercise.
The group’s president, Mr Harry Moses, said since the communities discovered the oil spill, it had had adverse effect on fishermen, farmers and the entire people.
“The problem with oil spill is that, sometimes you quickly notice where oil flows from and sometimes you don’t know. Sometimes the oil can also come from other locations. But the recent oil spills is from Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) facility,” Moses said.
He advised the company to urgently meet with the stakeholders in the host communities to clean up the oil spill, stressing that it has badly affected the economy of Ibeno.
Meanwhile, youths in Ibeno Local Government Area have threatened to take up the issue with Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN). They have also called on the company to fulfill the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into with the communities.
The youths in a letter to the Chairman/Managing Director of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), also demanded for the payment of compensation of N100 billion to the Ibeno people for damages caused by spillage from the facilities of the company for years.
They said copies of the letter, which was signed by concerned youth groups in the area, were made available to the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, security operatives, paramount ruler of Ibeno and other stakeholders.
“Our peaceful and simple posture seems to be misplaced and taken for granted and that confirms reasons of your insensitivity to the numerous problems your operations have caused us. After protracted negotiations between the company and our communities, a memorandum of understanding was entered into. As a matter of urgency, we call for its immediate implementation,” the letter read. Similarly, youths in Esit Eket Local Government Area, under the aegis of Esit Eket Frontline Youths Movement (EEFYM), have given the oil giant an ultimatum to implement the MoU it signed with stakeholders of the area over oil spillage.
The president of Esit Eket Frontline Youths Movement (EEFYM), Comrade Akan Etteudo, who spoke with newsmen in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, said Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) had refused to honour the MoU it reached with the communities with respect to the oil spill compensation and to develop educational infrastructures in the local government.
A statement by the Esit Eket branch chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Effiong Asuquo Ekong, also lamented that students were taught under trees following the demolition of their schools by contractors hired by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) to undertake the projects.
Ekong said: “Enquiries from various contractors revealed that the financiers, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), failed to release the third milestone payment to contractors to enable them complete the projects, which is one of the reasons they abandoned the projects.”
Meanwhile, there has been a renewed clamour for Mobil to relocate its headquarters from Lagos to Akwa Ibom State by the people of the South South region.
A group under the aegis of Niger Delta Peoples’ Alliance (NDPA) said the company was robbing Akwa Ibom to pay Lagos by refusing to relocate.
The NDPA described as unfair the situation whereby Akwa Ibom communities continue to suffer environmental degradation due to Mobil’s exploration of crude oil, while Lagos was getting most of the financial benefits.
When contacted, the Manager, Media and Communications of Mobil, Ogechukwu Udeagha, denied the allegation saying there was no recent oil spill in Akwa Ibom caused by the company’s facility.
He said the claims are all inaccurate allegations and that the company would continue to work with relevant stakeholders in protecting the environment.
“Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Joint Venture, received a report on an alleged crude oil spill off the coast of Akwa Ibom on December 19, 2016. Our daily beach patrols and helicopter over flights have not observed any oily substances on the waters or shorelines around our areas of operation.
“The joint venture has on several occasions found substances that are used motor oil or sludge, reported inaccurately as spills by third parties, and in some cases indicate deliberate placement. We will continue to engage authorities, including the Akwa Ibom State government, on these inaccurate allegations and are confident they are working on a solution.
“We will continue to work with all relevant stakeholders to protect the environment, our business and, by extension, the revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Akwa Ibom State government,” he said.
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