Akwa Ibom oil communities react to government’s plan to resolve problems with Mobil Oil

Source: pointblanknews.com

Mixed reactions have trailed the intervention of the Akwa Ibom Government in the face-off between Mobil Oil and oil communities in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state government waded into the crisis last week by setting up a committee to produce a memorandum of understanding (MOU) within one month.

At the meeting convened by the Akwa Ibom Government, Managing Director of Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) Unlimited Mark Ward regretted the deterioration in relationship between the oil firm and its host communities.

He pledged to hold regular dialogues and consultations to build a cordial relationship that would ensure peaceful operations at the Qua Iboe Oil Fields.

NAN reports that the existing MOU between the oil firm and its host communities in Eket, Esit Eket, Onna and Ibeno lapsed in 1998.

Reacting to the intervention, Mr Bassey Nkanang, President of Afigh Iwaad Ekid, a socio-cultural youth group, said that the youths received the development with mixed feelings.

``We welcome the intervention of Akwa Ibom Government, but Mobil did not have to wait for this long. We walked out of the talks three times before the MD could agreed to talk with the communities.

``The MOU we had lapsed 12 years ago and we have been agitating for a review.

``We urge every party to demonstrate good faith and we expect Mobil to act with honour and integrity and give this process the urgency it deserves.''

The youth leader also stated that while the communities would provide a safe operational environment, it expects a development in compliance with the Nigerian Content Law 2010.

Chief Samuel Atang, a community leader in Eket, said that elders of the community saw the intervention of the state government as interference.

``We doubt the sincerity of government because people in government have an interest that is different from that of the oil bearing communities.

``Moreover it is the officials of Mobil, who selected the people they are comfortable with to represent us.

``We did not have the opportunity to select our representative at the MOU meeting, but our needs are well known and we are not comfortable with Mobil's alliance with government.

``They do not need the government to fulfil their social obligations like providing support services in the development of their operational areas,'' he said.

However, a member of the MOU committee, Chief Effiong Archianga, said that he was not aware if the oil firm played a role in his selection and said that his invitation letter originated from the state government in Uyo.

The Public Affairs Manager in MPN, Mr Nigel Cookey-Gam, declined comments on the development when contacted by a NAN for reaction as several requests for reaction were turned down.

But Mr Inemesit Ina, Chief Press Secretary to Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor Mr Nsima Ekere, in a telephone chat with NAN said that the state government acted in good faith.

Ina said that the government intervened following the lingering disagreements since the existing MOU, which lapsed in 1998 had become obsolete.

Ina urged aggrieved communities to approach the chairman of the MOU committee, which had since commenced work following its inauguration last week.