Youths believed to be members of a faction of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State on Friday, August 29, 2014 forced the shutting down of the Erhioke Flow Station, which is operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
The company had to halt operations at the facility when the riotous youths reportedly invaded the OML26 Flow Station located in Olomoro, the administrative headquarters of Isoko South.
A community source told THISDAY that the closure was coming on the heels of the recently concluded People’s Democratic Party, PDP, councillorship primaries in the area where two prominent political archrivals were allegedly fingered for embarking on political battle of the outcome of ward 9 councillorship elections.
The lingering crisis over the outcome of the election resulted in shutting down of the flow station which also play host to other three oil fields in the area merely to draw the attention of the leadership of the party to the seemingly grievances.
Trouble started, our correspondent learnt, when the member representing, Isoko South Constituency 11 at the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Prince Johnson Erijo was alleged to have used his influence to change the name of the candidate who won the primary apparently for emerging from his rival camp, a situation which instigated the protest.
A competent source said that one Mr. Emmanuel Penda, a candidate of Mr Ferguson Onwo, Special Assistant, SA, to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on NDDC and former council chairman in the state was announced as the winner of the election, a process that did not go down well with the Hon. Erijo.
“Ferguson’s protégé, Immanuel Okugbe Penda won the recent PDP primaries for Olomoro Ward 9, but Prince Johnson Erijo wielded his influence at the party headquarter in Asaba to replace the winner with his favoured candidate, Chief Kingsley Oghenekaro Obiedhoko. The backlash is what has snowballed into the closure of the flow station”, the source said
A legal practitioner and community leader, Okiroro Iki-Ebieroma, condemned the action of the youths as unwarranted, saying it was obviously the handiwork of unscrupulous politicians in the locality who were trying to foment trouble and disrupt the prevailing atmosphere in the community.
He wondered why a section of the political party in the locality would resort to attacking the NPDC’s facility, instead of seeking to make known whatever they perceived as grievances through civilised and legal avenues.
He alleged that a certain female politician apparently misguided some youths, who reportedly launched the attack on the NPDC flow station, over the outcome of the recent selection of PDP candidates in the forthcoming local government election in Isoko South because her favoured councillorship aspirant lost.
He berated the masterminds of the action, noting that it was dangerous for anyone to attempt to settle selfish or personal scores under the guise of community agitation.
Iki-Ebieroma told newsmen in Warri on Friday, August 29, 2014, “The truth is that a misguided and disgruntled element that belongs to a camp within the PDP that was projecting a particular candidate for the councillorship position in Olomoro Ward 6. But the outcome of the primaries is that the candidate from her camp did not emerge; so what she did was to incite and misguide some jobless youths in the community to go and shut down the NPDC’s operation to draw attention of the PDP’s hierarchy, obviously to put them under pressure to reverse that decision.
“The point here now is that we must not mix community agitations with individual ambition. It is not a community agitation tied to demands, revenues or benefits that should be entitled to the community; this is not one of such agitations.
This protest has nothing to do with the NPDC’s activities, though the community has issues to thrash out with the company, this protest, which is misguided and misguided by politicians, led by Stella Ejeh, has nothing to do with it. She’s only doing this to attract attention.”
However, a senior external relations official of the NPDC who craved anonymity told THISDAY yesterday evening that the attack on the NPDC facility was most strange since the company had absolutely nothing to do with whatever political differences might exist among the people.
According to the NPDC official, “We are aware the Flow Station was shut this morning (Friday) by demonstrators in the community over some local election matters. Nevertheless, for safety of our staff and facilities, we decided to suspend our operations”.
“Whatever the problem is concerning the election they were said to have held in the community certainly has nothing to do with us. This is just another way of trying to disrupt our activities.
“Despite the enormous challenges we face in the communities, we have no problem with anyone. We are in no way connected with their political differences, but our operations are forced to shut down. It is quite worrisome and we hope to reopen if we are assured calm has returned though the situation will cost us a great deal.”