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Published On: Tue, Oct 29th, 2013

Chevron: Itsekiri Youths Protest Alleged Marginalisation in Employment

Itsekiri youths protesting on Warri streets yesterday

LAGOS OCTOBER 29TH (URHOBOTODAY) – Itsekiri youths, under the aegis of Ogborode Graduates Association and National Association of Itsekiri Graduates, in their hundreds on Monday, embarked on a peaceful demonstration in Warri to protest what they described as marginalisation by the American oil giant, Chevron, in the area of employment.
The youths, mostly graduates, said they were not happy that they remain largely unemployed while Chevron, which operates in their area , was offering jobs to, and empowering, people from other ethnic extraction.
Displaying banners and placards with inscriptions such as “Chevron, stop the wickedness against the Itsekiri nation,” unemployed youths need job,” This region is being marginalised,” “Chevron, let our employment quota be equal to our production,” and Chevron, review the employment quota,” among others, the youths marched through the NPA expressway and barricaded the main gate of Chevron along the expressway to drive home their point.
The authorities however responded to the early morning siege to the company by drafting over 50 policemen to disperse the protesting youths who were chanting anti-Chevron slogans amid drumming and singing.
Scores of the protesters were said to have been harassed and molested by the over zealous policemen, who also assaulted a local journalist trying to take pictures of the protest, even as one of the youth leaders, Comrade Agbafe Sebastine, who is the president of All Oil Producing Communities Graduates Association in Delta State, was brutally manhandled by the policemen.
Eyewitness said soldiers from the 3 Battalion, Nigerian Army, Effurun, who were also mobilised to the facility, in fact, threatened to shoot the youths if they crossed a barrier set for them.
Agbafe said they were protesting because Itsekiri graduates and professionals were being maginalised in the area of job placement in Chevron, stressing that job quota allotted graduates from the area was not commensurate to the barrel of oil being exploited from their land.
“We are graduates from all the oil-producing communities in Delta State. We are here to solidarise with other bodies who are from the region as regards employment. Oil exploration is taking place in our communities, but it is people from other tribes in the country, who do not have oil, that Chevron employs,” he alleged.
He disclosed that they had met with Chevron’s management several times on the issue with no positive result even as he lamented that no one has been employed after the 2009 employment process that was conducted by the company in which many Itsekiri graduates scored good grade.
But the Chairman of Ogborode Community Trust Fund, Chief Thomas Ereyitomi, who addressed the protesting youths, appealed to them to be calm and give Chevron another chance to address their grievances.
Chevron’s Head of Public and Government Affairs, Mr. Happy Appai, also appealed for calm, promising to address their demands. He also asked them to nominate delegates that will meet with the management of the company .

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