By Godspower Edoza
Youths in Rivers State have restated their opposition to plans by Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production Company (SNEPCO) to relocate its Supply Base from Onne, Rivers State, to Lagos, vowing to stop any ship that tries to load the property of the company from sailing.
The threat is coming on the heels of stiff opposition to the controversial relocation of the SNPECO Supply Base to Lagos by several groups including the Rivers State Youth Federation (RSYF), Onne Youths Council (OYC), Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), the Concerned Community Women of Rivers (COCOWOR), and the Rivers State Government.
Workers at the SNEPCO Supply Base in Onne; Paramnount Ruler of the Onne Community, King Dennis Osaronu; as well as former Niger Delta warlord and the Amanyanabo of Okochiri Kingdom in Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State, King Ateke Tom, have equally called on SNEPCO to shelve the planned relocation in the interest of peace in the Niger Delta region.
However, President of the Onne Youths Council (OYC), Philip Tenwa, said no ship will be allowed to leave Onne with the property of SNEPCO because the relocation of the company will lead to the loss of more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in the community.
He also warned against surreptitious removal of the company’s property from Onne as this may be counterproductive.
He said SNEPCO recently surreptitiously directed that all its property and equipment including turbines, engine spares and miscellaneous equipment spares be loaded into containers and moved out of the Onne Port, where it had operated for more than 20 years, to another port in Lagos.
The OYC leader said apart from the small businesses and contractors whose businesses would be affected by SNEPCO’s relocation, moving the Supply Base out of Onne Free Zone will negatively affect the economy of Rivers State and the larger Niger Delta region.
According to him, “It will also put the means of livelihood of many families and the future of our children at risk as well as further swell the growing unemployment market in the Niger Delta region.”
Earlier this month, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) said it would not allow 2019 general election in the Niger Delta region if SNEPCO, fails to reverse the relocation of its logistics base from Onne to Lagos.
IYC President, Oweilaemi Pereotubo, maintained that the company’s resolve to move vital equipment including turbines to Lagos from the Onne Free Trade Zone, Rivers State, where it has been operating for over 20 years, would lead to loss of thousands of jobs.
Pereotubo said, “We are totally against the relocation of SNEPCO out of Niger Delta to Lagos. If they claim Niger Delta is not safe for them to live, it would also not be safe for them to carry out their oil and gas exploration and exploitation works.
“Our position on their relocation is irreversible and we are demanding that if they do not relocate to Niger Delta between September 2018 to January 31, 2019, Ijaw would ensure there are no elections in the South-South come 2019.”
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