Youths under the aegis of the Onne Youth Council on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest at the Chevron shore/logistics base located in the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, Onne, Rivers State over the planned closure of the base.
They came out in large numbers carrying placards with various inscriptions appealing to Chevron to rescind its decision to relocate its logistics base from Onne, as the move could have dire economic consequences on the community.
Tobiah Silas Tete, the president of Onne Youth Council, who led the peaceful protest, said their visit to the shore base was to submit a letter of appeal to Chevron management to reconsider the decision to relocate its logistics support base from Onne in order not to throw the community and Rivers State into economic hardship.
“It has come to our notice as members of the host communities, the leaders and community representatives of the Onne-Ikpokiri clan that Chevron Nigeria Limited, an oil producing company operating its Shore/Logistics Base at the Oil & Gas Free Zone has commenced moves to relocate the Base from its current location in Onne, Rivers State.
Tete said the news came to them as a shock considering the strategic role the Chevron Logistics/Shore Base plays in their daily lives, especially as the company has enjoyed a very warm and cordial relationship with the communities for more than 30 years.
According to him, the Logistics/Shore Base is a major employer of labour in the community, and it provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs to men and women of Onne.
“We the host communities are jointly appealing to Chevron to stop the planned closure of its Logistics/Shore Base at Onne. This call became imperative considering the dire economic and security consequences of the planned relocation of the Shore Base out of Onne. We appeal to you to kindly halt the ongoing relocation to avert unnecessary economic hardship on persons and families in the communities that have supported your operations peacefully for many years,” he said.
“Many of our youths and women depend on the operations of the Chevron Logistics/Shore Base in Onne for survival and to support their families. Why then do they want to inflict this untold hardship on themselves and their households at this time when jobs are scarce and even unavailable?
Tete however said that the importance of Chevron’s presence in Onne communities over the past three decades cannot be overemphasized and moving the company’s logistics operation out of the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone at this time will be devastating to our youths and communities as a whole.
The Onne Youth Council President urged Chevron to enter into dialogue with the affected communities to discuss the issue and see how they can continue to work together.
Tete however appealed to Governor Nyesom Wike, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Chairman of Eleme Local Government, security operatives, and all well-meaning Nigerians to intervene in the matter by prevailing on Chevron to suspend the planned closure of its Logistics/Shore Base in Onne in order not to disrupt the peace in the Niger Delta region.
He also urged Chevron to kindly abide by its commitment to actively supporting the economic development of the communities that host its operation for years.
The protesting youths were received at the Chevron logistics/shore base by the Facility Security Officer Mr. Asu, who promised to convey their letter and request to the Chevron management.