NGO: Tackling Youth Restiveness In Imo Oil Communities | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


NGO: Tackling Youth Restiveness In Imo Oil Communities

Posted: Oct 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Anolu Vincent, Owerri

The Oguta ancient kingdom in Imo State is undoubtedly a settlement of note, East of the Niger and beyond.

Blessed with abundant human and material resources with enviable serenity and topography, Oguta is the largest oil producing community in Imo State and thus, plays host to a number of multi-National corporations mainly oil companies that are ubiquitous in all nooks and crannies of the town, prospecting for oil.

The famous Oguta Lake which is replete with all forms of aquatic animals has become a cynosure and an excursion centre to visitors who throng the oil bearing city to have a glimpse of River nucleated town.

Curiously, the geese that lay the golden eggs (oil production) has nothing to show for this as anger frustration, dejection and hopeless has become the lot of the people arising primarily from non provision of gainful employment, basic necessities of life, scholarship and contract to the now embattled indigenes of the town.

Expectedly, this has more often than not, brought the anger stricken indigenes on a collision course with the oil giants that prospect for oil in their community.

Thus, piqued by occasional out break of hostility between the global oil kings and their host communities a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) – CLEEN foundation has taken the gauntlet to smoothen ties between the two and to up lift the living standards of the people.

At a one-day sensitization workshop on Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights held at the kingdom of lake oil and gas (Oguta), the programme officer of the foundation, Mr. Ifeanyi Anyanwu identified Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VP) as non binding soft laws established in 2000 to offer guidance set to guide extractive companies, (oil, gas and mining companies) in maintaining the safety and security of the facilities and operations with respect for human rights.

Anyanwu listed three elements of voluntary principles (VPs) as a Risk Assessment, Interaction with Public Security and Interaction with Private Security.

He said that the extractive companies in the country which include the Chevron Corporation, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Statoil, Total have an interest to ensure that actions taken by security operatives are consistently in line with the protection and promotion of human rights.

To mitigate risks of human rights abuses and promote respect for human rights, the programme officer said that extractive companies should consult the host government and host communities about the impact of the security arrangements on the host communities.

At the workshop which was well attended by indigenes of the Oguta L.G.A, Anyanwu, dwelling extensively on ethical conduct and human rights policies, deployment and conduct consultation and advice said that while companies should communicate their policies to public security, they should equally organize meetings with public security personnel on regular basis to deliberate on security and human rights.

Anyanwu charged extractive companies to always demonstrate a high level of accountability and transparency by recording reporting allegations of human rights abuses by public security in their area of operations to appropriate host government and to monitor the investigation for proper resolution.

He explained that the VPs has the capacity to promote respect for human rights by ensuring that the security arrangement and actions of security personnel do not violate the human rights of the host communities while encouraging communities participation in security arrangements of companies operating in their communities.

According to Anyanwu, the VPs contribute to bridging the gap in the relationship between the companies and host communities, contribute to bridging the gap in the relationship between members of the host communities and security agents, promote corporate social Responsibility (CSR) through regular consulting of the host communities, promotion of proactive measures in security management through risks assessment, accountability and transparency in security arrangement in the extractive sector.

According to him, the role of community members in the extractive sector towards promoting VPs is to contribute to encouraging the oil companies that had signed on to VPs to where adhere to VPs in a manner that they objective of the establishment of VPs could be achieved.

This, he said, could be done by encouraging the community representative represent the interest of the community by electing the right people to represent them, demanding accountability from their elected leaders/representatives, tracking and recording of human rights abuses by security agents attached to oil companies.

Others he said are contribution towards providing security to the operations of the oil companies, reporting oil theft and pipeline vadalization to security agencies and legal oil companies in addition to creating awareness on the VPs to encourage Nigerian government to sign in to VPs.

He gave an assurance that the CLEEN foundation in liaison with the national human rights commission (NHRS) would hold periodic meetings with such bodies as the Community Government Council (CGC) Natural youth council of Nigeria (NYCN), Niger Delta Youths Council (NDYC), Presidents General (PG) from the CGC, core oil landlords association and grassroots development initiative (GDI) on human rights violation.

Anyanwu who decried deliberate misinformation and cheep propaganda against imagined enemies, enjoined the workshop participant to sensitize their community members for them to appreciate what they are doing.

Speaking on “Human rights in the extractive sector, the executive Director-citizens centre for integrated development and social rights (CCIDES OR),” Mr. Emeka Ononamadu attributed the embarrassing high level of insecurity of lives and propertives in the Niger Delta region to a vicious circle of human rights violation starting that real development in the region occurred before the discovery of oil.

Ononamadu argued that the insecurity in the region occasioned by ceaseless kidnapping, vardalism of oil installation was as a result of the emergence of oil as the mainstay of the nation’s economy regretting that this had been blown out of proportion with serious infiltration in Oguta

“The richer you become the more you are prone to insecurity such as kidnapping and violate armed robbery attack” he lamented stressing social economic rights is organically tied to the basic necessities of life

Ononamadu explained that there are legal and institutional approach to reduction of human rights violation and advised the people to do a thorough analysis that could convince the appropriate government agencies of their pressing problems.

Coordinator NHRC Imo State Dr. Valentine Ekeoma Madubuko, giving a vivid historical background of the commission listed its seventeen thematic areas of focus as women and matters, children, corruption and good governance, detention centre and regulatory Agencies, environment and Niger Delta education, freedom of religion and believe.

Others were torture, extra-judicial killing and terrorism, land reform and law review, independence of the judiciary and access to justice, labour, food and shelter.

The rest were communal conflicts and other related violence, health, freedom of expression and media human rights and business, rights of persons with disability.

Dwelling extensively on the role and responsibilities of the commission, Madubuko said that NHRC among other things seeks audience with persons affected by environmental degradation such as human induced pollution through oil exploration mining, dumping of toxic wastes and industrial wastes.

“Situation of this nature makes the officers of the commission to embark on advocacy visits to the traditional rulers, government functionaries captains of industry and labour leaders and such advocacy visits are aimed at sensitization on the benefits of protecting people rights and preserving the environments,” he stated.

Madubuko added that the NHRC intervenes in disputes involving families, communities, expulsion from schools or places of work and marginalization of any kind.

With the firm assurance that the NHRC partners and collaborates with the human rights, Non Governmental organization (NGO’s) and Civil Society Organization (CSOs) In the discharge of its functions, it is expected that the workshop participant would avail themselves of the services of the CLEEN foundation to remedy their deep seated predicament.