HOPE RISES FOR OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITIES IN ABIA STATE…
TOTAL, OWAZA COMMUNITY AND ABIA STATE GOVT AGREE ON M.O.U
The strategic engagement by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu with Oil and Gas Companies operating in Abia State for the improvement of the well being of oil bearing communities in the state is beginning to bear fruits.
Governor Ikpeazu had promised the oil rich Owaza Community in Ukwa West LGA during his last visit where he saw first hand, the worrisome level of environmental degradation occasioned by oil prospecting activities in the community with the companies. At that occasion, Governor Ikpeazu vowed to end the ugly practice and hold these companies accountable to the people.
That visit was promptly followed by the separate visits of the managements of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd and Total Exploration Nigeria Ltd, who have heavy presence in Owaza.
At those visits, the Governor made it clear to them that a part of the profits they make from these communities must be given back to the community for development in line with international standards. He also told them to get ready to pay necessary taxes to the state government and the relevant local governments.
Today, a major step was taken in that direction as TOTAL, the people of Owaza Community and the Government of Abia State, after long drawn negotiations, mutually agreed the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding that will see to the development of human and physical capacities of the Community.
At the headquarters of TOTAL in Port Harcourt, negotiations were held under the auspices of the State Government and the parties mutually agreed on some key areas which include award of scholarships to indigenes of the community, sponsorship of indigenes in high level skills acquisition programs, provision of annual funds for specific development projects in the community and most importantly, the inclusion of Owaza Community in the Corporate Social Responsibility calendar of TOTAL which will involve the periodic citing of developmental projects in the community.
Furthermore, it was agreed that all sub contractors to TOTAL who operate in Owaza must commence immediate negotiations with the State Government and the Community on the issue of employment of indigenes.
It was also agreed that TOTAL shall set up a full fledged liaison office at Owaza immediately and ensure that taxes and tenement rates due to the State and Local Governments are paid as appropriate.
However, TOTAL was assured of the commitment of our people to keep the peace and provide an enabling environment for their businesses to thrive.
TOTAL owns a Gas Gathering facility at Owaza built to feed Gas to the Alaoji Power Plant for the supply of electricity.
The State commend TOTAL for their genuine commitment to partner the State Government in the development of communities where they do business.
The Executive Chairman of Ukwa West LGA, Hon. Goodluck Nwaobiwe, the four traditional rulers in Owaza, Community and Youth Leaders from Owaza were part of the delegation while TOTAL was represented by a high powered delegation.
The MOU will be formally signed soon and implementation will commence as soon as possible.