Sen. Akon Eyakenyi

More condemnations trail Exxon Mobil’s recent donation of obsolete and rickety vehicles to the Akwa Ibom state government for use in combating the dreaded Cornavirus pandemic, the Senator representing Eket Senatorial district in the National Assembly, Akon Eyakenyi says the people of the Senatorial district would no longer tolerate further insult from the oil multinational.

In a press statement signed by the lawmaker of the Senatorial district, Senator Eyakenyi frowned at the repeated cases of Exxon Mobil’s shabby treatment of the Senatorial district which plays host to the company’s operations and Akwa Ibom as a whole.

Citing several provocative actions of the oil company against the people of the state, Eyakenyi reacted, “It must henceforth be noted that we have had enough of ExxonMobil’s ill treatment of Akwa Ibom State in general and its host communities across Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in particular.

“We demand to know ExxonMobil’s employment policy with respect to its host communities and State which suffers the dire effects of its operations.

“The discriminatory treatment of Akwa Ibom workers in the Company is hereby strongly condemned.

“We call for the reinstatement of all recently sacked workers of the Company (permanent and contract staff) of Akwa Ibom origin.

“We shall undertake an appraisal of the Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility for the past 65 years”, Senator Eyakenyi fumed.

She further asserted that, “Our God-given natural resources cannot be extracted, our environments polluted, our means of livelihood forfeited, our health compromised without commensurate compensations.

“We are ready to take it up with ExxonMobil once and for all. Enough is enough”.

She blasted the oil giant for treating Akwa Ibom with disdain in its employment quota, saying the company has failed Akwa Ibom in the discharge of her corporate social responsibility.

Eyakenyi, who had previously served as a Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, a former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in the state, and ex-Chairman of the Governing Council, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, scored Exxon Mobil zero in its relationship with host communities in the state.

“Prioritisation of employment of indigenes of their host communities and the provision of social amenities are very important components of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy of responsible organisations all over the World. This important policy does not envisage the sack of such staff at the least promptings and during temporary reduction in profits”.

“Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) is an entrenched and globally accepted practice by private businesses. It helps businesses create conducive environments for sustainable mutual relationships with their host communities which in turn enhances their smooth operation to ensure profitability”.

“Considering the fact that ExxonMobil is the second largest producer of crude oil in Nigeria operating over 200 offshore platforms comprising of about 300 producing wells, the largest crude oil producer in Akwa Ibom State, operator of the major oil fields in the State, and the operator of the only petroleum exportation terminal in Akwa Ibom State, it is expected that ExxonMobil should be a RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE CORPORATE CITIZEN of Akwa Ibom State.

“A company which has Akwa Ibom as its host State and which does not drill from any other state outside Akwa Ibom State as far as Nigeria is concerned is supposed to remain attentive to the environment it is operating in.

It is expected to care about the welfare of Akwa Ibom State, particularly the host communities”.

“Since 1955 when Mobil Exploration Nigeria Incorporated (MENI – as it was then called) started operating in the then South Eastern State and within communities in the present day Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, it cannot boast of commensurate development of its host communities and by extension, the entire Akwa Ibom State as is presently constituted. The company has not acted in good faith with respect to how it has treated its host communities in the past 65 years”.

“Despite the fact that ExxonMobil does all its business in Akwa Ibom State, it has displayed the highest level of insensitivity towards its responsibilities to Akwa Ibom State. ExxonMobil has defiantly bluffed Akwa Ibom’s repeated calls for the relocation of its corporate headquarters to the State where it is making billions of dollars. The sad reality is that, ExxonMobil takes almost all of its decisions at its Corporate Headquarters located outside Akwa Ibom and passes same to Akwa Ibom State where its production operations take place.

She also alerted that contract bids and awards, advertisements for recruitments, interviews and employments of staffers are all done outside Akwa Ibom.

And by her estimation, “this leads to a situation whereby greater percentage of ExxonMobil staff particularly the top management workforce outside Akwa Ibom and pay their taxes to another State while Akwa Ibom suffers the externalities of ExxonMobil’s exploration and production operations”.

“What ExxonMobil has done to Akwa Ibom State over the decades is a classical case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Another State which neither hosts ExxonMobil nor own the crude oil ExxonMobil extracts comfortably sits far off to rake into its coffers huge amounts from taxes and as well gets its economy boosted by hosting the company’s corporate headquarters while Akwa Ibom remains on the receiving end of negative effects of the IOC’s activities”.

“Akwa Ibom State also suffers brazen discrimination with respect to ExxonMobil’s employment policies. While most of Akwa Ibom citizens are employed as contract staff, others from outside the State are taken as permanent staff of the company. This explains why Akwa Ibom State has always been the worst hit each time ExxonMobil retrenches its workers. Statistics of the recent massive retrenchment of staffers of the company reveals that over 75% of the people sacked are Akwa Ibom natives. Is ExxonMobil telling the world that Akwa Ibom State does not have skilled people it can employ on permanent basis?”

“Over the years, there have been several cases of oil spillages leading to monumental damages to the fauna and flora within the host communities’ ecosystem. These spillages have equally led to the loss of the means of livelihood of the people within ExxonMobil’s host communities. Farmers and fishermen for instance, suffer greatly, the effects of such spillages most times without adequate compensations”.

“Activities of the company as well lead to the pollution of sources of drinking water of the people, corrosion of roofing materials on their buildings and many attendant health implications on the population around the host communities. It has led to series of violent attacks, communal clashes, litigations, and above all, loss of several lives. The negative impacts of ExxonMobil’s operations in Akwa Ibom State over the decades can better be imagined”.

“For several years of ExxonMobil’s operations in Oron waters, it has willfully refused to recognise the five Local Government Areas making up Oron Federal Constituency as its host communities in line with a valid Resolution passed by the House of Representatives, thereby denying them deserved benefits as host communities. Series of civil unrests, protests and various other measures by the Oron community have been rebuffed by ExxonMobil. This is the height of contemptuous treatment by a company which exploits and makes profits from the people’s resources.”

“ExxonMobil promised in 2018 to build a Technical Skills Acquisition Facility at Community Technical College, Ikot Akata, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area; Trauma Center at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital and an Engineering Faculty Complex at the University of Uyo Permanent Campus. Up until now, it is yet to make good those promises.”

Senator Eyakenyi maintained that “the peaceful and hospitable nature of Akwa Ibom people over the decades have been misinterpreted by ExxonMobil to mean weakness and helplessness, and warned that the oil company’s excesses would not be tolerated anymore.