In what seems to be a season of scrutiny for the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company, NLNG, by host communities in the Niger Delta as well as the Nigerian lawmakers, the youths of Bonny Kingdom in Rivers State on Monday staged a peaceful protest at the NLNG facility in the community, accusing the company of not living of the expectation in its corporate social responsibility to its host community.
The youths who defy the early morning heavy downpour accused the company of failing to live up to its corporate social responsibility, particularly employment of graduates from the area. And that the host community has not benefited anything from the company since 1996 it began the construction of its base station.
The Bonny Youth Leader, Mr. Christian Ezekiel Hart who led the protest said that they have been denied employment opportunities in the company and that only about 2percent of NLNG employees were Bonny indigenes.
Lamented that indigenes of the area are the people who suffer the health and environmental hazard caused by the company’s operations in the kingdom, said that despite that the community had nothing to show for it.
He further alleged that no Bonny indigene was considered for the 81 employment slots for graduate trainees the company advertised recently.
Also accusing the company of high-handedness, the youth leader said instead of the company addressing the protesting youths, the management of NLNG used police personnel to chase them away.
“Just a few months ago, we got a hint that NLNG was employing 81 graduate trainees, we thought it was a joke so we tried to make inquiries. Later we got the fact that the 81 slots were already filled.
“We wrote to the management NLNG to find out why the company would embark on such project without considering Bonny indigenes who are graduates, but the company gave a deaf ear to our concerns.
“So this morning our youths came out in their numbers to protest the injustice, and we are saying that as host a community, we deserve the right to have some slots.”
The Bonny youths who had issued a seven-point demand on the matter, said that the position of the CLO and CSO in NLNG and other multinationals operating in the area must be given to qualified Bonny indigenes.
The youths also demanded that the Bonny indigenes be given a 25 and 40 per slot in the company’s skilled labour cadre and unskilled cadre employment, respectively in NLNG. And that NLNG should establish a standard health care facility in Bonny and a review of graduate trainee scheme to include 25percents of her indigenes.
“It is shame, Nigerians need to see the high level of gas flaring going on in Bonny, the poverty, hunger, and unemployment among youths in Bonny, yet NLNG does not want to meet up its corporate social responsibility. So, we are saying enough is enough. Bonny graduates must be employed.
“For us, we are not asking for too much, what we are asking here is a peanut compared to what NLNG is making out of Bonny and compared to what Bonny youths and Bonny people are suffering here.
“We are saying that as a host community, the security of this kingdom is best managed by people of this kingdom but NLNG decided to give it to non-indigenes and to us it is a slap on our faces. They must listen to us and if they don’t, we will go back to restrategize and then come back with full force.”
As at the time of filing this report, the management of NLNG is yet to respond to the protest as well as the allegation that the company ordered security personnel to chase away the youths of Bonny during the protest.