By Dennis Udoma
UYO—Youths from five oil-producing local government areas of Akwa Ibom State have, again, shut down operations at Exxon-Mobil base in Eket, demanding the relocation of its headquarters to the state.
Vanguard gathered that the peaceful protest organised by a socio-cultural organisation, Afigh Iwaad Ekid, began around 3a.m., yesterday, paralysing activities at the company, as coffins marked with traditional injunctions were used to block the Mobil Airstrip at Marina Road Junction, leading to the tank farm and the company’s housing estate in Eket town.
The protesting youths from Eket, Ibeno, Onna and Esit Eket Local Government areas said their action was a warning to the company to begin the process of relocation in line with the Federal Government’s directive to international oil companies, IOCs, operating in the Niger Delta region to move their head offices to their areas of operations.
They also demanded, among others, award of major contracts to indigenes of core oil-producing communities, training and engagement of youths in meaningful employment and payment of compensations to spill-impacted communities.
In Ibeno, the protest was disrupted by a downpour, as normal activities were said to be going on at the facility at press time.
Speaking to Vanguard, Public Relations Officer of Afigh Iwaad Ekid, Mr. Joe Etukudoh, vowed that the youths’ protest will continue until the issue is addressed.
Effort to speak with the company’s Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Mrs. Regina Udobong, on the protest was not successful as her phone was switched off.