Regular official activities at the Delta state Government House in Asaba were held to a standstill for close to one hour on Thursday when protesting youths and ex-agitators blocked the only access in protest of an alleged hijack of their surveillance jobs.
The protesters, under the aegis of OML 30 communities youths and ex-agitators from the first to the third phase of the federal government’s amnesty programme, who stormed the governor’s office in tens of buses from various Urhobo, Isoko, Ijaw and Itsekiri communities, accused business tycoon, Captain Hosa Okunbo and his company, Ocean Marine, of scheming to hijack the the surveillance contract of OML 30 facilities and render thousands of them jobless.
However, the state government, represented by the Attorney-General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Peter Mrakpor, affirmed to the angry protesters that the agreement with the operator of the facilities was that the communities handle the surveillance and security of the facilities, adding that the government would not let that agreement fail.
Expressing the displeasure of the protesters to the state government, from a position paper which was later handed over to the Attorney-General, spokesman of the youths and ex-agitators, Mr Lord Tennyson, said thousands of youths of the state were about to lose their jobs to the alleged hijack, noting also that if not prevented, the security situation in their areas might be adversely affected.
He also charged the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, to investigate the process attending to the alleged hijack, alleging also that the the contract value had been inflated more than five times the actual price, saying , “we have learnt from very reliable sources that the intent of Captain Okunbo, his company; Ocean Marine and his presidency backers is to use the surveillance job as a mere front to siphon millions of dollars for the purposes of executing the 2019 elections in Delta state and rig their party, the APC to power in the state.
“To achieve this, we gathered that the corrupt gang in the presidency has corruptly and unilaterally awarded the surveillance contract to Ocean Marine at a rate almost five to six times of the contract award rate of the previous contractor company.
“Your Excellency, we feel that this is the point at which you, as the Chief Security Officer of our dear state, must rise up to take steps to nip this madness in the bud to avert the impending danger that this greedy set of ‘soldiers of fortune’ is about to impose on not just our communities, but also our dear state.
“You may wonder how this is our concern. It has become our concern because we have sat down to imagine what the picture will look like when Ocean Marine successfully takes our jobs away from us, using either traditional rulers or president-generals of communities as fronts, how many youths with bustling capacities and abilities will be rendered jobless. We imagine what other uses can hitherto busy, but now idle youths can engage their abilities and capabilities in.
“We are imagining the level of confrontations and conflicts we might start to have to witness and how much work the security agencies might have to be dealing with by the time these thousands of jobless, able-bodied youths start engaging those they will inevitably blame for their new unpleasant status and how much more chaos the state government might have to be grappling with, having to add the problem of restive youths from an area that had hitherto maintained its peaceful calm all along. Your Excellency, we hope you know these might eventually be the least of the problems you may expect to come out of the 111 communities under OML 30”, he said.
Responding to the presentation of the protesters, the Attorney-General, Mr Mrakpor, recalled that the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU) between the operators of the OML 30 facilities, Heritage Energy Oil Services Limited (HEOSL) and the communities had just been recently, after a whole year of processing, noting that the agreement was that surveillance of facilities will be the job of Deltans and had rejected any involvement of non-Delta personnel or companies.
He, however assured that he would take the matter to the governor the moment he returns to Asaba, adding “I can assure you that you will not be disappointed”.
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