Bilabiri community in Bayelsa writes Deputy Gov on recall of rep on Cluster Dev Board

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By Nathan Nwakamma

Yenagoa, Oct. 15, 2020 The leadership of Bilabiri Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa, have appealed to Bayelsa Deputy Gov. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo to wade into the leadership tussle in the Mien Cluster Development Board (CDB).

According to the community, Mr David Otiti, erstwhile representative of Bilabiri 1, on Mien CDB, a body that administers development funds provided by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) who was recalled was still being recognised by the government and SPDC.

It was gathered that the Mien CDB was inuagurated on Oct 2018 for a five year tenure, but the recall process for Otiti commenced on July 14, 2020 less than two years into the five year tenure.

In a letter to the deputy governor, sighted by journalists the letter said “the intervention of the state government would nip the brewing crisis in the bud, and preserve the existing peace for oil and gas exploration in the state”.

The letter was signed by Community Development Committe (CDC) Chairman, Mr David Bazigha, Chief Otiti Miebiotu, Monarch of Bilabiri 1 and Youth President, Elijah Obon.

The community urged the state government to prevail on officials of its Ministry of Minerial Resources to effect the decisions of the community by invoking the recall as spelt out in the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) without further delay.

They noted that at the end of the next one week, the community is left with no option than to shut down oil facilities at the Estuaries Area oil field operated by SPDC, adding that they had maintained industrial harmony since 2018 when the recall process started.

According to the community it is regrettable that, since the community unanimously recalled its representative Otiti, and communicating same to the Ministry of Mineral Resources, officials of the ministry were yet to act to enforce the recall.

They alleged that officials of the Ministry have been compromised to take steps to undermine the power vested in the community by virtue of the convention and the Operating Principles and Procedures Guidelines, (OPPG) of the GMoU between SPDC and Bilabiri 1 Community.

In the letter so copied to the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Ogbere, representing the area at the Bayelsa Assembly, the community leaders urged them to wade into the matter to forestall imminent break down of law and order in the community..

“In 2018 as per the wordings of the OPPG, that guides and directs activities between SPDC and Bilabiri 1 Community, the community nominated and approved the appointment of one of their own Mr David Otiti, who was eventually sworn in by the Ministry of Mineral Resources on October 9, 2018, in line with Section 3.2.5, 3.1.6 and 3.1.7.

“Due to the issues that fell below the standard of practice of the Chairman of the Community Trust, and based on Section 3.1.10 of the OPPG, the chairman was recalled and a nomination was made to replace only the chairman by the Bilabiri 1 Community in a general meeting.

“That since the recall and communicating same to the Ministry of Mineral Resources, no action has been taken and the person recalled is still parading himself as Chairman, as though he has not been recalled and this is well known to the ministry.

“The community are aware of certain steps being taken to undermine the power vested in the community by virtue of the convention of the OPPG.

“Having met all conditions required for the recall, the people and leadership of Bilabiri 1 Community have resolved to shut down oil facilities within 7 days if the ministry officials continues to dilly-dally in carrying out its duties as also required.” The letter read in part.

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