Hundreds of youths, women and elders of Olobia, a settlement on the Atlantic shoreline within Koluama, Southern Ijaw Local Government, have protested against their alleged exclusion as host Community of an oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited.
The indigenes on Monday besieged for hours, the Yenagoa office of KEFFES Rural Development Foundation (KRDF) to register their displeasure.
With placards carrying various messages, the protesters sang solidarity songs and baricaded the entrance of KRDF’s secretariat in Opolo area of Yenagoa, the state capital.
KRDF is funded by Chevron to implement existing memorandum of understanding and development projects in the oil firm’s host communities in the state.
Some of the placards read, ‘Olobia community must not only benefit from negative effects of Chevron’s operations’, ‘The peace-loving people say no to exclusion, enough is enough’, ‘Olobia community is an autonomous community’, among others.
The Deputy Paramount Ruler of Olobia, Chief Kingsley Gongo, who led the action, said that the community embarked on the peaceful protest to draw the attention of the foundation, government and management of Chevron to its exclusion from development.
Gongo said that it was regreettable that efforts to table the matter had been rebuffed as several letters written to relevant authourities had yet to yield any result.
He said that the community had attained an autonomous status and recognised as such by Bayelsa State Government for over five years.
The monarch regretted that Chevron and the foundation had yet to recognise the community as one of its hosts, excluding them from developmental projects.
Addressing the protesters, Head of Administration at KRDF Secretariat, Mr Faowei Biboete, pledged to convey their grievances to the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees.
Biboete said that it was the responsibility of the board to set criteria for including communities to benefit from Chevron’s corporate social responsibility projects.
He applauded the people for their peaceful conduct and expressed optimism that the issue would be amicably resolved through dialogue between the foundation and the community leadership.
A community rights activist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, appealed to Chevron and KRDF to resolve the conflict through dialogue given the peaceful approach of the people.
Morris noted that the community provides access to the oilfields located near the Atlantic coastline in Koluama in Southern Ijaw area of the state.