ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has identified disrespect for human rights by governments and companies as a critical factor militating against the development of the country.
Ewhrudjakpo stated this on Tuesday while receiving a report from a committee set up by the state government to broker peace between the people of in Nembe Local Government Area and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company in Government House, Yenagoa.
He underscored the correlation between human rights and development, stressing that gross disregard for the rule of law which guarantees the people’s rights was part of the reasons Nigeria is still lagging behind in terms of development.
Ewhrudjakpo decried the disrespectful attitude of oil companies towards their host communities.
He assured the people that the state government would do everything within its powers to ensure a better relationship between the two stakeholders.
He commended members of the committee for their efforts and promised to convey the recommendations in the report to Governor Douye Diri with a view to taking necessary actions to promote a mutually beneficial relationship between the Okoroma people and Agip.
Ewhrudjakpo said: “Working with these oil companies have been a challenge. They have this mentality of showing a lot of disregard, disdain and disrespect for their host communities especially in our state, which is very unfortunate.
“I think it’s our country that is supporting them to behave the way they do. They don’t do things that they do here in their own countries. They put in place the best practices and observe same in their countries.
“I can assure you that we will look into your report and invite Agip for a meeting in the spirit of love and respect for human rights. Because human rights and development go together.
“If you don’t respect the rights of the people you are dealing with, it will affect your own development. That is why our country is where she is, because more often than not, we don’t give enough respect to human rights. That is why our development is stunted.”
Presenting the report, the Chairman of the committee and member representing Nembe Constituency 1 in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Ben Ololo, identified the seven-month-old power outage in Okorama Clan as one of the immediate causes of the conflict.
Ololo noted that contrary to the government’s directive on August 26, the oil major had yet to put in place any temporary measure to restore electricity supply to the clan pending when a permanent solution would be provided for the power needs of the people.
He said the committee’s findings revealed that only two indigenes of Okoroma had been employed as low cadre permanent staff since Agip started operations in the area in 1973.