Marginalisation: Agip denies claim by host Communities over lopsided appointment

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
As against reported cry by group of landlords in the swamp areas that play host to Nigerian Agip Oil Company ( NAOC) in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States, threatening to shut down the operations of the multi national company over an alleged lopsided appointment and marginalisation by the firm, the company in its recent statement described the allegation as false and baseless.

In the statement signed by NAOC management, the multinational said its activities are carried in compliance with national and international best practices, adding that more than half of the managerial personnel in the company are from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States while the remaining are shared by 18 states of the country.

“Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd (NAOC) is a subsidiary of Eni SpA, a global energy company operating in over sixty countries; its activities are carried out in compliance with national and international laws and regulations and international best practices. The company is guided by strong values to ensure fairness, transparency, honesty and integrity in all its activities. The Company’s system of policies and internal controls respects the highest international standards.

“Eni’s approach to human rights is integrated into the Company’s mission; it is an integral part of Eni’s identity and its way of doing business. It builds on the dignity of every human being and on companies’ responsibility to contribute to the well-being of local individuals and communities. Indeed, Eni believes that business must respect internationally recognized human rights, as established in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“Recruitment personnel rotation, careers, tenders, procurement activities – as well as any other decision of the company – follow strictly laid down rules and regulations, defined at HQ level with a set of checks and audits. As a consequence it is not possible for any individual to take unilateral decisions without going through the processes and hierarchies. Allegations that one ethnic group is secretly controlling processes, contracts and budget of the company are absolutely false.

“More than the half of the managerial personnel in the company are from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States while the remaining are shared by 18 states of the country including Imo State that is one of the operating locations since over 55 years. Also, about three quarter of the total matriculated workforce comes from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States while the remaining are shared by 18 states of the federation. Claims about domination of one ethnic group over another, and marginalization of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States are false and baseless.

“Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited does not have any affiliation to any political bodies, as it is against its regulations.

False and unverified claims on how the Company is conducting its operations are irresponsible: they can endanger the lives of personnel of the company from a particular part of the country, could incite unnecessary ethnic violence, they create confusion, tension and instability”.

It would be recalled that the group through its leader, Onisoya Odum at the NUJ Press Centre Port Harcourt, said the activities of the oil company was detrimental to the host communities and appealed to the state government to set up a panel of inquiry to ascertain the alleged marginalisation against them.
Odum had said the key positions in the company were shared to non indigenes, even when they do not have the requisite qualification, adding that the situation was tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
He alleged that the millions of dollars being siphoned through huge operational contracts under this scheme might be used in sponsoring the activities of the the indigenous People of Biafra ( IPOB) in the Niger Delta states particularly, Rivers,Bayelsa and Delta states where the company predominantly has its operations.
The group threatened that except the alleged ethnic cleansing in the company stops and the indigenous people, particularly from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states are immediately reinstated, they would not hesitate to occupy all the operations bases of the oil and gas company.

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