…18 months after, we are yet to receive payment from Heritage, we are not slaves in our land – Protesters
…Appeals to FG, Okowa, others for swift intervention
By Binebai Princewill
In what was seen as a heavy protest on Thursday, Community based surveillance workers in OML 30 Trans Forcados Pipeline in Delta State have issued a seven (7) days ultimatum to Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd to pay them their entitlements or face corresponding consequences. The Liberator Newspapers can report.
The angry workers gave the ultimatum during a heavy protest staged by the workers at the Rapele Manifold in Ugbokodo, Okpe Kingdom in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State yesterday.
The protesters who bare their minds in an interview with newsmen during the protest had described the activities of Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd towards its workers as a modern day slavery, vowing that they can’t be slaves in their own land anymore.
However, the protesting OML 30 Trans Forcados Pipeline community based surveillance workers had appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, His Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and other relevant agencies to come to their rescue by prevailing on Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd to urgently pay them their backlog of entitlements.
Speaking further on the issue, the workers had maintained that Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd is owing them 18 months salaries despites working, adding that if the company fails to harken to their demands by urgently paying them their money and other sundry issues, as indigenes of the oil producing area, they can’t guarantee the continued safety of the critical facilities.
They continued that since Heritage takes over the facility from the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), it has been one problem to the other where indigenes of the oil bearing communities in OML 30 have become slaves in the hands of Heritage Oil Plc, alleging that the deliberate non payment of the workers for 18 months have caused unprecedented hardship to the people.
The protesters brandished several placards with different inscriptions such as ” Heritage must go, NPDC come, Heritage we are dying of hunger, pay us our money, Heritage renew our contracts, Heritage give us our money, this injustice must stop, Heritage pay us, Heritage stop this injustice, NPDC come back, renew our contracts, No ocean marine company, we don’t know ocean marine company, among other inscriptions “.
We can’t be slaves to a foreigner in our own land – Chief Evans blows hot
On his part, Amb. Chief Evans E. Etimigba (JP), a critical stakeholder in OML 30 had reiterated that people from the area cannot in any case be slaves to a foreigner in their own land flowing with milk and honey without any benefit to the land lords.
“I am Chief Evans E. Etimigba (JP), a justice of peace in Delta State, we have initiated peace all these while, last year, Heritage came on board and said they have terminated all contracts of indigenous contractors while a foreigner from Edo State, Capt. Hosa, Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMS) is working in our land, I was part of those that signed as land Lord to give part of the Trans Forcados Pipeline to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 2006, December 22th to be precise, which later gave it out to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). I see no reason why a foreigner will come to my back yard to work while me the land Lord cannot benefit from it.
“In my place where I come from, over 100 persons where benefiting from it under NPDC but Heritage connived with Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMS) to terminate our contracts upon taking over the facility, now it is only OMS people that are working, if we cannot achieve this with peace, we will definitely use other means if it means violent to achieve our demands.
“You cannot claim to be cutting cost by terminating contracts of indigenous contractors while paying billions of naira to Ocean Marine Solutions Limited which is far more than the money paid to indigenous contractors. This is really strange as even the GMOu document clearly stated in article 10: 5 that surveillance contracts are purely for indigenous contractors.
“Federal Government should come and remove their pipelines from our lands if they have come to impoverish us.” Chief Evans Etimigba vibrated.
The ways of Heritage is really strange – Emmanuel
Mr. Emmanuel Aki, a supervisor in OML 30 had described the activities of Heritage Oil Plc as strange
In his words”I am a supervisor in OML 30, we have worked peacefully with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), but since Heritage came into place, we have suffered a lot, no payment of salaries for over a year now, since they took over from NPDC, it has been one problem to the other, if they fail to pay our money before or within 7 days, we prefers to die while demanding for the payment of our money. We have severally cried to the Government and our leaders but all to no avail, we are now calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria, our dear Governor of Delta State and other relevant agencies to prevail on Heritage to pay our money and renew our contracts, or else there won’t be peace ”
Heritage cannot continue to starve us to get what they want – Chief Ikpikpini
On his part, Chief Capt. Clifford Ikpikpini, the Egbefe of Okpe Kingdom in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State stated that Heritage cannot continue to starve the people from their mandate areas to get what they want freely.
Chief Ikpikpini particularly obseeved that Heritage Oil Plc is becoming above the law, sighting series of references where the company had continued to snobb meetings initiated by higher authorities to broker peace.
“Ugbokodo has been a very peaceful community over time, we cannot keep quiet anymore when we are being owed over 17 months
“Heritage has become above the law, the company has continued to snobb both the Delta State Government and other authorities including the Nigerian Police Force whenever moves are made to bring solution to this matter.
The chief stressed that the palace of Okpe Kingdom in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State is well aware of the protest, adding that when the palace was briefed on the issue, the palace was surprised that up till now, Heritage is yet to pay the workers for 18 months.
Chief Clifford maintained that while the palace is aware of the protest, it charged the protesters on a peaceful demonstration devoid of violence as peaceful protest is recognised by the laws of the country.
The chief had vowed that the protest will continue to linger in a higher volume until Heritage urgently pay them their money and renew their contracts.
The trio of Thomas Eyetan Jemigbeyi, Spokesman in Ubeji community, Warri South Local Government Area, Mrs Alice Okoroyi and Sir Evang. Samuel Ogholemu, Chairman Ugbokodo community had all spoken in similar manner on the varying dictatorial, oppressive and inimical tendencies of Heritage Oil Plc towards their hosts.
They asserted that they are tired of Heritage hence the protest, promising that it will continue until all pending and ondulating payments are done urgently and the indigenous pipeline surveillance contracts be renewed.
Nevertheless, the workers had expressed shock on why Heritage have refused to pay the workers despites directive from the Delta State Government in 2020 to do the needful.
Meanwhile, all efforts geared towards reaching out to officials of Heritage Oil Plc in order to hear their own side of the story proves to be unsuccessful.