The President-General, Obolo Youth Coalition (OYC), Mr Mkpon Ijonama, has condemned resolution by the Rivers State House of Assembly on the suspension of AMNI International Petroleum Development Company in Rivers.
AMNI, a Federal Government licensed Independent Oil Exploration Company, operating in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers, has within 16 years of operation employed over 60 indigent youths in the area.
Ijonama, made the condemnation on Monday in Port Harcourt while reacting to resolution of an ad hoc Committee set up by Rivers House of Assembly to investigate petitions presented against the company by 30 host communities linked to the company’s newly inaugurated oil field (Tubu Field).
Describing the committee’s resolution as hasty and anti-people, Ijonama urged the House to adopt due process in its investigation so as to avoid possible break down of law and job loss among youths in the area.
According to him, the company among its several Corporate Social Responsibilities to its host communities, has also employed over 60 indigent youths of the area.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the committee headed by Mr Mathew Dike, representing Tai State Constituency, had accused AMNI Oil of refusing to avail it necessary documents to assist in its investigation.
An attitude the committee said was a disregard of the authority of the Assembly, which had also left it with no option than suspend forthwith all operations of the company.
Ijonama on his part, has alleged that the suspension was an aberration, as the company’s mandate falls within the exclusive list and so should not be decided by the House of Assembly.
He also revealed that the company was also battling with several unresolved court litigations which apparently made it impossible for any person or group to interfere on matters between the company and its hosts.
He also alleged that the company was not given enough time for a fair hearing, lamenting the possibility of over 60 youths of the area losing their sources of livelihood if the suspension was not reversed.
“As a youth leader, I’m most concerned because a good number of our youths already have jobs with AMNI and its subsidiaries, we also look toward to prospective employment opportunities in the new Tubu Oil Terminal.
“The House should consider that its decision apart from affecting the company and its employees will also ruin our national economy.
“By the law, the company is only entitled to 40 per cent, while the Federal Government gets 60 per cent on profits on this oil operation,’’ he said.
On the allegation that the Tubu Oil Field is operating without an MOU, Ijonama described it as misinforming the people, adding that no company could have resumed any operation without an understanding with its host community.
“According to the companies’ operational guidelines, the MOU only becomes operational when there is a full commencement of production activities and Tubu Oil Terminal has yet to get to its actual production stage.
“I think, we should rather at this stage be talking about implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a process that is already ongoing.
“So far, AMNI Oil has consulted with Andoni Local Government Chairman, Mr Paul Lawrence, who in turn had set up and even presided over the EIA Committee with members drawn from among the elite in the area,’’ he said.
(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)