[EDITORIAL] Chevron Needs Dialogue With Host Communities Over Alleged Oil Spillage

By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board 

It is now a common knowledge that one of the self-contained and quietly influential international oil companies operating in the Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), has in the past weeks been in the news over a frosty relationship with the host communities.

The skirmish, going by both the media and commentaries from Gbaramatu communities, is orchestrated by an alleged oil spillage that recently occurred in the area of which the affected communities have said that they have enough evidence that the spill was traceable to a fractured facility belonging to the American oil giant.

This strained relationship has also, as a consequence, led to pickets of the company’s three operating platforms located in riverine parts of the state.

Aside from the cordial relationship that had existed between Chevron and these communities in the past, the Editorial Board of the GbaramatuVoice is particularly pained about the development but considers it as an unpalatable development. A state of affairs that necessitated this editorial intervention/commentary.

Beginning with the cool headed nature of the organization when juxtaposed with other oil prospecting and production firms in the region, Chevron, all these years, has in our estimation demonstrated a high sense of reputation for total neutrality, discipline and loyalty in community relations. Its community relation’s template has been praised over time with some troubled communities in the regions calling for its adoption by other oil majors in the Niger Delta region.

But the present event has heightened a sense of insecurity and underlined the urgency of the organization to come out and seek dialogue with the affected communities.

Looking at the present challenge, as a reputable media that supports the fundamental needs of the country, and, the positive purpose of both government and corporate organizations, if it will not in any way dent/obstruct our primary responsibility to the masses, the Newspaper is using this medium to call on the Management of Chevron Nigeria Limited to, in the interest of its (Chevron) reputation and good corporate citizenship end the present challenge with the communities which is tending towards becoming a crisis of the sort.

In our views, the communities’ demand for the establishment of a Joint Investigation Panel to unravel the immediate and remote factors that led to the alleged spill is not out of order. It is a global practice employed by any group or society desirous of peace and harmony. Their call for meeting with Chevron management without taking violence is equally legendary as it is commendable.

The Newspaper holds the opinion that Chevron as a responsible and responsive organization should make use of this opportunity in the interest of its reputation.

As a way of cementing the relationship in ways that will prevent further crisis in the future, the GbaramatuVoice proposes that Chevron management promptly and thoroughly investigate the allegations by the communities that some of the staff in the organization’s Warri office is false-feeding the Chevron headquarters in Lagos with inaccurate information about the current. As the staff has vested interests- which includes but not limited to, namely; tribal/ethnic sympathy/ inclination, emotional attachment or patterned observation among others.

The reason this allegation which is laced with capacity to instigate inter-tribal/ inter-communal hostility must not be handled with levity is that it is coming at a time when the Ijaws and their Itsekiri brothers are beginning to speak in one voice, eat from one plate and drink from one cup. Such robust relations currently for instance must not be truncated for pecuniary reasons of some individuals and groups. But must be nurtured and sustained.

Finally, the Editorial Board and entire Management of GbaramatuVoice, will in the interest of peace encourage Chevron to recognize that the best way to win an argument is by avoiding it. The time to seek peace with these communities is now.

Support Quality Journalism in the Niger Delta Region

Join us in our mission to bring development journalism, cultural preservation, and environmental awareness to the forefront. Your contribution makes a difference in the lives of the people of the Niger Delta. Donate today and be a part of the change!