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Governor Amaechi Lampoons Shell Over Community Projects

Sunday, February 08, 2009              

From Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt

Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has lampooned Shell Petroleum Development Company for exaggerating projects executed in some Rivers communities under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU) reached with host communities.

Governor Amaechi, during an inspection of Shell SPDC’s GMOU projects in Afam, in Oyigbo Local Government Council of the state yesterday, admonished Shell and other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to take their social responsibility to host communities seriously in order to stave off unrest.

Before embarking on the inspection, officials of Shell had visited the governor at the Government House, Port Harcourt, twice and attempted to show a Power Point presentation of the projects executed in some of their host communities, but Amaechi declined, insisted on visiting the project sites in person.

Shell officials led by Theo Wellington said the company had invested in several people-oriented projects in Afam, executed under its Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU).

Under the GMOU, he alleged that the communities dictated and selected the type of projects they wanted, as well nominated the contractors for such projects with the company providing the fund. But the governor, who expressed dismay at the substandard and unsustainable projects executed by Shell at Afam said: “If what I saw represents the type of projects executed in host communities, then the communities are correct, that the companies were not embarking on projects that would add value to their lives.”

Governor Amaechi, who was accompanied on the visit by former Rivers State governor, Rufus Ada George, explained that “Before we came here, the Shell authorities told me that they were doing an excellent work in Afam and that the people are happy, but from what you can see and hear the people say I don’t think that is the true position.”

Similarly during a visit to Okoloma community, irate youths, women and elders of Oyigbo staged an anti-SPDC and government protest to express their dismay over the neglect of their community, which is one of the major oil and gas producing area of the state.

The Paramount Ruler of Anyama community, Chief Mark Adiele, told the governor after he had inspected an uncompleted water project that was awarded since 2006, that SPDC promised the community several projects, but has not delivered any.

Adiele appealed to the governor to intervene urgently in the water needs of the people as their only source of drinking water has been polluted by oil spill.

Ada George has meanwhile expressed satisfaction with the quality of projects the present administration is embarking upon. He stated this after an unscheduled inspection tour of some ongoing projects in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor and Ikwerre Local Government Councils.

“I had opportunity of going round some project sites with the Governor for the first time, and I am deeply impressed with the efforts to decongest Port Harcourt by providing access roads to the rural communities, because it was one of the visions we had years ago”, Chief Ada George stated.

According to him, “I have seen most of the projects and I am convinced and happy that he is doing the right thing. I call on the people of Rivers State to cooperate with him.

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