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Total E &P, Shell, Agip: Often In The News For Wrong Reasons

Shell Petroleum Nigeria Limited

(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) -Total E&P Nigeria Limited, Nigerian Agip Oil Company and Shell Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria are multinational oil companies operating in Rivers State. They have been doing so for between 30 and 60 years, yielding so much returns to the investors and enriching their staff. However, they appear to be lacking in their relationships with host communities and other vulnerable stakeholders, including contractors.
The people of Rumuomasi, in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State are complaining that Shell Petroleum Development Company is employing graduates with third class degree but have neglected to consider their children who are graduates for employment. Their argument is that Shell prefers having people from the host community as cleaners, labourers and servers of tea. Rumuomasi is insisting that Shell is grandstanding with the claim of equal opportunity employment and going for the best, the alibi, according to them that is being used to deny their sons and daughters employment.
The host community accuse Shell of going behind to employ third class graduates who have links with those that matter in Shell, when they can boast of people with all classes of degrees in various disciplines.
The situation is worrisome because Shell did not deny the allegation of employing graduates with third class degrees when Notable Outcome enquired. The manifest double standards employed by this company in their dealings with stakeholders, especially at the expense of the host communities is the height of injustice.
Another company that has been in the news for the wrong reasons is Nigerian Agip Oil Company. The company is notorious for owing contractors, and it is only hoped that they will reconsider their ways in 2018.
Until the end of 2017, hundreds of Agip’s contractors have been at their wits end over the company’s neglect to pay as and when due, as contained in their contract agreement. The implication has been that the marginal contractors among them are compelled to sell off their properties in order to pay back loans. Those who have nothing to sell in order to defray their debts are being threatened on a daily basis by creditors, even as some can no longer provide for their families.
There are also cases of many sending away their workers because they could no longer afford to keep them, a development that is worsening the unemployment and security situation in Nigeria.
It does appear that all pleas have fallen on deaf ears and those who dared to protest in Port Harcourt were violently dealt with by security agents.
Meanwhile, in Andoni, there are also complaints of neglect by Total E & P. Following a petition by Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante, who is representing the area in the National Assembly, , the Local Content and Legislative Compliance committee of the House of Representatives has been mandated to investigate the allegation of breach of Local Content Act 2010 by the Total E&P in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The contention of Hon. Abiante was that the company and its joint venture partner have failed to employ and award contracts to qualified Andoni indigenes as stipulated in the Act. He also accused the company of not executing development projects, despite making billions from the host communities. The lawmaker was of the view that insecurity in Andoni Local Government Area could be curtailed if Total E& P considers qualified locals for employment.
Unfortunately, the feeling is that these multinationals are taking communities of Rivers State for granted because of their peaceful disposition. Some are also of the opinion that there is a conspiracy to ensure that host communities are kept out of the mainstream of operations in these companies, a strategy that is aimed at giving outsiders edge over the hosts.And this is being reflected, not only in permanent jobs, but also in the employment of contract staff
It is not because the host communities do not have qualified hands but because top officials of these companies prefer to import their relations to take over available positions while the host communities are asked to make do with menial jobs, a practice that is no longer acceptable to the people.
In view of current realities of manifest unfair practices, the companies must realise that, injustice and peace are incompatible. The companies cannot be negligent in their duties and expect sustained peace in the environment where they operate. Benjamin Franklin also probably had these companies in mind when he said: “If you would be loved, love and be lovable”. Our position, is in line with the philosophy of Cardinal Conway, who in March 1972 said: “Every one must play his part. Obstacles which stand in the way of justice must be removed…There must be a mutual and abiding respect for others, for their persons, their rights and their lawful aspirations”.
This mindset, in our opinion, remains the key to cordial relations between the companies and host communities.

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