(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) -There were songs of rejoicing and celebrations of victory in the OML 25 communities of Belema, Offoin-ama and Ngeje communities of Kula in the Akuku-Toru local government area of Rivers State on Saturday when the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief. Timipre Sylva, accompanied by the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Mele Lolo Kyari; officials of NAPIMS, Shell Petroleum Development Company and other organs of government visited to open the OML 25 facilities occupied by Kula women who were protesting neglect from SPDC for operating in the area for over forty years with no meaningful impact on host communities.
The protesting women who occupied OML 25 facilities for over two years, and the entire host communities were therefore demanding that one of their own and founder of Belema Oil Producing Limited, Engr. Jack –Rich Tein, Jnr., be allowed to take over the business because he understands their problems and is prepared and able to fulfill their legitimate expectations.
Addressing the women before theyvacated the facility, the president and founder of Belema Oil, Engr. Jack –Rich Tein, Jnr., assured the women that their voice has been heard and their interests adequately accommodated in the agreement that was facilitated by the federal government to resolve the conflict.
In his own remarks at a reception organized by the host communities, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, told the people that they are not alone; that the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari are with them, and that it was out of respect for them that the high powered federal government delegation had to visit the community, to be part of the ceremony.
Chief Sylva told the victorious people of Kula: It is time to change strategies and begin to bring benefit of investment to our communities, so we must make our communities peaceful. It is your responsibility to bring peace to our communities so that investors can come and create jobs”.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Mele Kolo Kyari, said the reopening of facilities has paved the way for normal life and peace to return to the host communities, and was glad that normalcy has finally returned to the area.
Highlights of the occasion included inspection of facilities, visit to King Oko Royal House, commissioning of NNPC/Belema Oil JV Portable water project, foundation laying of Kula Primary /Secondary School, Medical centre, women /youth training centre, ground breaking ceremony for Belema oil Producing Limited headquarters in the area as well as bestowing of special honour on the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Sylva as Amagbelembo of Kula kingdom, meaning lover of the people by King Kroma Amabibi Eleki, chairman, Kula Council of Supreme Traditional Rulers.