Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has vowed that the government will not tolerate shutting down of oil facilities.
Wike said under no circumstances should communities take laws into their hands by preventing oil companies from working.
A statement by his media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, said the governor spoke at a meeting with Chairmen of Cluster Development Boards in Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema Local Government Areas, oil companies and security agencies at the Government House in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
The governor directed the immediate revival of the State Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards.
He said: “I will not support any company which does not perform its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) to its host communities. However, communities must not take laws into their hands; they must not stop production by the operating companies. Such actions will negatively affect the finances of the Federal Government, the state and the local government areas.”
According to the governor, where companies fail to act within the expectations of the communities, the government will mediate through the Steering Committee on Cluster Development Boards.
“It is important that we do not allow crisis to occur in the communities. The Aeroton rig in one community was seized; that rig should be allowed to work. I called this meeting because of concerns raised by the operating companies in the area,” Wike added.
The governor regretted that most problems in the Niger Delta are caused by oil companies who patronise and engage with criminal elements to the disadvantage of host communities.
Former Commissioner of Environment Samuel Horsfall noted that “the oil companies know the right thing to do but they will never take the right steps”. According to him, the firms even refuse to recognise Council Chairmen who are the direct links to the respective communities.
An official of one of the Cluster Development Boards, Charles Sekibo, denied seizing the rig of an oil firm. According to him, his community has always provided the needed support for the company to engage in production.
Managing Director of Aeroton Mr. Ebiaho Emafo said nobody has the right to stop the production of oil companies. He noted that the company has spent about N3 billion on community development and the company is struggling to make ends meet.