The Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, Hon. Ekong Sampson has called on oil multi nationals to partner host communities in dealing with Oil and Gas related issues to avoid the host communities being short-changed by the operating companies.
He handed down this advice over the weekend at Civil Service auditorium, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat when he presented a speech during the signing of Memorandum of understanding (MoU), between Universal Energy Resources Limited and its host communities in Akwa Ibom State.
Dr. Sampson who spoke extensively on peaceful coexistence between the host communities and the oil companies, described peace as a major factor that can enhance conducive working environment for greater productivity.
The Commissioner while commending Universal Energy for their tremendous contributions towards the development of the communities via Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), assured them of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s readiness to support and encourage them in their operation.
The Mkpat Enin born politician thanked, Secretary to the State government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwen for his doggedness and commitment in bringing his experience to bear in settling the age-long dispute between the warring splinter groups in Unyenge. He emphasized that the MoU is a veritable tool for industrial harmony, because it provides a level playing ground for both parties to deliberate and come out with a standardized template that will guide their operation in their operational based.
To chart a new course in their operation, stakeholders set up a 17 man technical committee to review the lacuna that has been there for over three (3) years. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of looking into the sharing formula that would be favourable to all stakeholders, establishing CSR monitoring committee to monitor projects in the host communities, check how employment of Indigenes of host communities are carried out by operating oil and gas companies, among others.
He further explained that, it is unacceptable for companies to sneak into communities to draw up an agreement which is not authenticated by the ministry and countersigned by the Attorney General of the State. Meanwhile the Commissioner congratulated members of the MoU implementation committee and charged them to uphold utmost honesty and integrity in executing their functions for the benefit of all.
Sampson said Oro Nation is hugely endowed with oil and gas in the state. He assured that government will protect the interest of Oro Nation and that of the host communities.
The Commissioner said the day (of the MoU signing) is symbolic enough to portray what the future holds in store for the people of Oro Nation. He thanked the council bosses for maintaining peace in their domains, while urging the host communities to collaborate with government for the pursuance of the agitations.
“The state government will spare nothing in protecting the interest of the host communities. The governor is committed to harnessing our vast potentials in order for you to benefit maximally”, he said,
Responding, Chairman of Mbo, Hon. Asukwo Eyo thanked the MOU drafting committee for the work done. He equally thanked Universal Energy for doing the needful.
Chairman of Esit Eket represented by Vice Chairman, Samuel Itama thanked Universal Energy for their commitment towards getting a new MoU done after the old one expired in 2017. He thanked the host communities for exercising patience and cooperating with the company even without a working MoU over the past 3 years. He prayed for a holistic implementation of the new MoU.
Mrs Nkoyo Etuk, representative of the MD of Universal Energy said: “It’s been a long walk. We’ve been on this road for a long time. I thank the Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources for making the process smooth”.
She equally thanked the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, Esq for reviewing what has been agreed by both parties and drafted on the MoU. She extended her appreciation to the host communities for their patience while the MOU was not on ground. She specifically thanked them for the conducive environment they gave her company to operate, promising that all the contents of the MoU would be fully implemented. She solicited for more cooperation from the host communities in the years to come.
President General of Oro Union, Bishop Etim Ante commended the state government for the Initiative. The former South-South zonal Spokesman of the PDP urged the state government to ensure that other companies operating in the state are brought to the round table to ensure that an MoU is reached between the host communities and companies for a smooth working relationship.
Representative of the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Okon Simon, thanked the Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources for fast-tracking the process that saw to the finalization of the MoU. He said that the exercise is a laudable development which is hugely commendable. The SSG charged the host communities and company on the smooth implementation of MoU, assuring the company that the state government would continue to give adequate security and enabling environment to ensure its smooth operations.
Others who attended the event were the Paramount Ruler of Mbo, Representative Eket Paramount Ruler, Paramount Ruler of Udung Uko, Edidem Bassey Etim Edet, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources, amongst others.