By Ndu Samuel, Asaba
Youths of Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State under the aegis of Gbaramatu Youth Council (GYC) on Tuesday protested against the non recognition of the youth body by the Egbema/ Gbaramatu Community Development Foundation (EGCDF). The Liberator Newspapers can report.
The youths who gathered in large number at the administrative head quarters of EGCDF at No 2 golf close, airport road in Effurun Delta state said their mission is to put an end to long years of maginalization of Gbaramatu and Egbema youths.
Comr. Shadrach Onitsha, president general of Gbaramatu Youth Council (GYC) stated that the continual refusal of EGCDF to give recognition to GYC as a bloc and important stakeholder in its operation despite several entreaties by the youth body is grossly unjustifiable.
The youths, during the protest issued a communique titled “Request for recognition of Egbema and Gbaramatu Kingdom Youths Councils as a bloc in the operation of EGCDF” to the chairman
It reads in full below:
A) Mr Chairman, we the youths under the aegis of Gbaramatu Youth Development Association also known as Gbaramatu Youth Council, being the apex youth body representing the collective interest of Gbaramatu kingdom youths on empowerment and other developmental issues worldwide has deemed it necessary to embark on this mass protest due to the failure of the management of EGCDF to reach a peaceful round table discussion in response to a Communique reached by youths of this movement and our sister youth body of Egbema Kingdom with regards to the above topic which is of common interest to both Kingdoms youths. Since the communique was sent to you since 2nd of December 2020, the attendance non response of the EGCDF which interfaces on behalf of Chevron Nigeria LTD and her host communities in Egbama and Gbaramatu Kingdoms respectively shows how much of less important youth related issues are to the foundation. However, moving forward this unlawful self-serving status quo of members of the board of EGCDF at the detriment of both Gbaramatu and Egbema people must change.
B) Mr. Chairman, as you know, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) has being carrying out several exploration and exploitation activities in our area for decades with several of it’s facilities located within our domain but the collective interest of the youths have not been considered since inception till date owing to lack of proper relationship with youths body mandated in that regards.
C) While the earlier mention trend is quite unfortunate, you will agree no less that it will be wise and interesting to incorporate the peace loving Egbema and Gbaramatu kingdoms youth Councils in the operation of the EGCDF henceforth in order to sustain peaceful correlation with us and maintain a healthy working environment. If kingdom youths participation in the activities of this foundation is forestall by the laws establishing this foundation, then such laws must be revisited and corrected as its givens are not in sync with global best practices.
D) Suffice it then to say that, the impact of Chevron onshore and offshore operations has a significant effect on the eco system of its operational areas which in this context involves Egbema and Gbaramatu Kingdoms respectively with a huge effect directly on the youths, reducing life expectancy in both Kingdoms. More so, the provisions of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Development Content Act (Local Content Act), this foundation as an extension of Chevron Nigeria Limited is mandated to protect the collective interest of the host and impacted communities in its operational area with youths inclusive.
Consequently, we desire as follows:
1) That the youths of Egbema and Gbaramatu should be recognized by the laws establishing this foundation as Egbema and Gbaramatu Youth Councils Bloc and whatever that was allotted to the host communities, the kingdoms youths be recognise and treated separately through the bloc.
2) The youth Councils of Egbema and Gbaramatu Kingdoms should be directly notified and be part of the employment committee in the governance model of the GMoU signed with EGCDF and DTSG so that youths of both kingdom will be able track engagement records of youths of both Kingdoms as the attendance manipulations of job slots channeled by Chevron through this foundation over the years have kept the workforce of both kingdom idle for too long and this is gradually becoming a huge security burden on both Kingdoms.
3) The laws establishing the EGCDF must as a matter of importance and as part of Chevron Corporate Social Responsibility provide funds channeled through the youth bloc to sponsor educative and informative sensitization campaign, youths development and orientation programmes and sport activities as it was stated in the SCHEDULE D in the GMoU signed with EGCDF and DTSG quarterly or yearly in order to engage the Egbema and Gbaramatu kingdoms youths meaningfully and to help them out of idleness which is the main reason for illegal oil mining activities which has been against the corporate interest of multi-nationals like Chevron Nigeria limited and others in the creeks.
4) Youths development centres should be included in the GMoU whenever update take effect.
5) EGCDF should provide steady electricity and pipe borne water to all the host and impacted communities in Egbema and gbaramatu kingdoms as soon as possible because our people whose natural streams and rivers have been destroyed by the activities of Chevron and other subsidiary companies ought to enjoy these basic amenities for what our communities are contributing to the economic growth of Delta State and Nigeria at large.
6) Also, EGCDF should provide medical aid to our people in the host and impacted communities from time to time as it was, like River Boat Clinic before the formation of RDC in 2004 in order to serve as emergency response to health related issues in both Kingdoms that are most times made complicated by the decades of uninterrupted emission of greenhouse gases in the said areas through the oil explorative and exploitative activities of Chevron Nigeria limited.
7) The youth Councils of Egbema and Gbaramatu Kingdom must play a significant role in the amendment of the GMoU which we propose should be done within the first quarter of 2021 (from now till March ending) as we have identified a lot of flaws in it that need to be updated to be in line with global best practices, with due recognition of youths which are at the centre of any sustainable development all over the world.
E) It is appalling to note that, CNL is impoverishing the kingdoms of Egbema and Gbaramatu to maximise its profits in the connivance of the management of this foundation who are now serving themselves by unlawfully awarding contracts to themselves, their children and cronies at the open watch of the world at the detriment of stakeholders of both Kingdoms which includes the youths.This embarrassing and shameful high handedness cannot continue as we are ready to exhaust all lawful means to put a stop to this evil trend.
F) There are competent youths with reputable characters, with the requisite qualifications to work in Oil Companies in Egbema and Gbaramatu Kingdoms that are relegated to the unemployed cadre of the society just because the Ijaw people of Egbema and Gbaramatu kingdoms in Warri North and Warri South West local government areas respectively who seem to be silenced and relegated
to an helpless situation in our case with CNL.
G) Lastly, this protest is expected to last for as long as meaningful response which include reaching a memorandum of understanding between EGCDF and us with clear indications that all our demands will be met within stipulated time which at the expiration of the time, the agreement must mandate us to lock up this office as a response to the breach of the agreement.
J) WE MOVE!
Signed For GYC:
Comr. Shadrach Onitsha Ebikeme, Comr.
Comr. Ebike Asoh, Secretary General.
The communique had particularly noted that the issue of unemployment ravaging Gbaramatu Kingdom, referencing a situation where more than three thousands youths across the Kingdom have graduated without any employment from Chevron either as a direct staff or contract staff, neither labourers, adding that such age long inimical practice calculated against the peaceful youths of Gbaramatu Kingdom must be corrected now.
Addressing the youths after the protest, Amb. Sherrif Mulade, secretary of EGCDF said their agitations are genuine and promised to liaise with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the matter is speedily addressed.
He also commended them for the civil and orderly manner in which they presented their case.