There is palpable tension in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State as some companies stand the risk of being thrown out of the area due to activities deemed to be undermining the economy of the area.
This indication came from the Bonny Kingdom Freedom-To-Operate Committee (BKFTOC) which has threatened to start the process of blacklisting the erring companies and pushing for their eviction from the Kingdom.
Speaking with Kristina Reports, Team Lead of the Bonny Kingdom Freedom-To-Operate Committee, Engr. Richard Abbey said the affected companies include General Electric (GE), Hot-Hed Nigeria Limited, Daiik Engineering Nigeria Limited, Courdeau Catering Nigeria Limited, Desicon Engineering Limited, ENG Rypac Limited, Evomec General Services Limited (EGSL), Midis Energy Services Limited, Elkan Terrace Hotels, Pivot GIS Limited, and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, among others.
Managing Director, General Electric Nigeria, Lazarus Angbazo
“Based on these divisive activities and outright disdain for our King, the Amanyanabo of Grand Bonny Kingdom, we (the FTO Committee) has decided to make a recommendation to His Majesty to banish these erring companies from the Kingdom”.
“They do not deserve to be here as they have in different ways been abusing the goodwill of His Majesty, the King and the good people of Bonny Kingdom.”
According to the BKFTOC Team Lead, the Amanyanabo of Bonny Kingdom, His Majesty, King Edward William Dappa Pepple III, CON, Perekule XI, established the BKFTOC to ensure ease of doing business in the community and create a seamless interface between the companies and the community but the attitude of some of the companies were undermining the revered King’s efforts.
Some of these companies are alleged to have sneaked into the community without adhering to established procedures of community engagement, failed to employ indigenes of the community, blatantly refused to discharge their corporate social responsibilities, and more worrisome, have been treating representatives of the Kingdom with disdain and outrightly harassing them in some cases.
Engr. Abbey stated that efforts to get these companies to do the right thing have not yielded any positive results as many of them devise ways of evading their responsibilities to their host community, asserting that they were taking the community’s peaceful disposition to business entities operating there for granted.
Findings by Kristina Reports show that some of these companies have been in Bonny LGA without the knowledge of the leadership of the community or the local government authorities.
Recently, the Chairman of Bonny LGA, Engr. David Irimagha had accused the multinationals of undermining the economy of the area by refusing to employ youths of the area, and withholding what was due to the community.
He further stated that the parameters for arriving at what was being paid as tenement rates to the LGA by the companies operating there were no longer tenable, stating that he has initiated the process of reviewing those parameters to make them consistent with globally acceptable standards.
He regretted that Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) deployed to these companies were reportedly subjected to appalling working conditions, disclosing that the CLOs were allegedly accorded poor reception and poor salaries, while office accommodation, logistics, welfare, and medicals, among other perks that should naturally come with their engagement as representatives of the community were allegedly being denied them by these companies.
“Imagine the way they treat our CLOs and other community representatives sent by the Kingdom to them? GE and Hot-Hed have refused to pay homage to our Kingdom and have also refused to accept any CLO or officers since their arrival over 10 years now.”
He revealed further that the companies were allegedly shortchanging the community in different ways, applying divide and rule tactics, and contributing to the worsening unemployment crisis in the community.
“Also, take note that some of these companies come and pay homage to the Kingdom and start their business but we notice that they hide under the first job to do the new jobs and ten, twenty years later the Kingdom does not know that they are still here”.
“We also discovered that some companies, subcontractors under Shell have stayed in this Kingdom for over five years with only one time homage and without any community development (CD) project in the kingdom.
These are unacceptable to us as a people”.
Group Managing Director, Shell Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor
He added that “quota balancing in the various companies has been a tough challenge over years and this has to be looked into to help create more employment opportunity for our youths”.
The BKFTOC Team Lead maintained that a situation where all the catering services inside the NLNG Residential Area were provided by non-indigenous firms was objectionable and provocative in the least. He advised the NLNG management to create a fair balance by changing the narrative and engaging indigenous firms to provide those services.
He equally called on the Bonny Kingdom Indigenous Caterers Forum and the Bonny Kingdom Indigenous Contractors Assembly to indicate interest by bidding for those jobs, saying NLNG has to comply with extant local content regulations in Nigeria or risk the ire of the Kingdom.
Engr. Abbey also accused Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited of allegedly not adhering to the full disclosure principle in its dealings with the community as it has allegedly consistently failed to provide the Bonny Kingdom with a full list of its contractors and subcontractors.
Chairman/Managing Director, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Paul MacGrath
He posit that this was due to the fact that the local content principle was allegedly not being adhered to its engagement of contractors and subcontractors, alleging that several of these contractors and subcontractors were doing jobs that ordinarily would have been done by competent indigenous companies.
“We have discovered that majority of these non-indigenous subcontractors are from Eket and, curiously, there are no subcontractors from Bonny doing business in ExxonMobil, Eket. Majority of the major jobs here are being done by people from Eket”.
Efforts to reach these companies proved abortive as at the time of this report as the contacts provided on their official websites were not connecting.
On their part, ENG Rypac Limited denied any wrong doing, saying that theirs was more a misunderstanding which was in the process of being resolved. In a phone chat with Kristina Reports, ENG Rypac’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Nathaniel Imide, and the Project Manager, Chike Ochulo said that the company would never do anything to jeopardize its relationship with its host community.