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Bayelsa community protests exclusion as Chevron’s host

Indigenes of Olobia settlement on the Atlantic shoreline within Koluama, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, have protested their exclusion as host community of an oil major, Chevron Nigeria Limited.

The indigenes on Monday thronged the Yenagoa office of KEFFES Rural Development Foundation to protest their exclusion.

Hundreds of youths, women and elders, who carried placards and sang protest songs, barricaded the entrance of KRDF secretariat in Opolo area of Yenagoa, the state capital.

KRDF is funded by Chevron to implement existing Memorandum of Understanding and development projects in the oil firm’s host communities in the state.

Some inscriptions on the placards read, ‘Olobia community must not only benefit from negative effects of Chevron’s operations;’  ‘The peace-loving people say no to exclusion, enough is enough;’  ‘Olobia community is an autonomous community,’ among others.

The Deputy Paramount Ruler of Olobia, Mr. Kingsley Gongo, who led the protest, said the community embarked on the peaceful protest to draw the attention of the foundation, government and management of Chevron to the exclusion of the community from development.

Gongo said it was regrettable that efforts to table the matter had been rebuffed, as several letters written to relevant authorities had yet to yield any results.

He said the community had attained an autonomous community status and recognised as such by Bayelsa State Government for over five years.

The monarch regretted that Chevron and the foundation had yet to recognise the community as one of its hosts, thereby excluding them from developmental projects.

Addressing the protesters, Head of Administration at KRDF Secretariat, Mr. Faowei Biboete, pledged to convey their grievances to the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees.

Biboete said it was the responsibility of the board to set the criteria for the inclusion of the communities to benefit from Chevron’s corporate social responsibility projects.

He applauded the people for their peaceful conduct and expressed optimism that the issue would be amicably resolved through a dialogue between the foundation and the community’s leadership.

A community rights activist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, appealed to Chevron and KRDF to resolve the conflict through dialogue, given the peaceful approach of the people.

Morris noted that the community provides access to the oil fields located near the Atlantic coastline in Koluama in Southern Ijaw area of the state.

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