Aggrieved youths from Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State yesterday blocked the road leading to ExxonMobil, a multinational oil company over what they described as the alleged marginalisation of the people and community by the oil firm. The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as “Exxon- Mobil engage our youths in the deep water project”, “We need light in our community”, “Resuscitate our cottage hospital,” “We need good water in our community”, “ExxonMobil clean your environment”, “Our fishermen is suffering because of sea-piracy,” “Why should we suffer in the midst of plenty”, “Re-employment of our sacked contract staff”, and “We don’t have light, but government is using our oil to empower others Local Government Areas and states.” Addressing journalists, the Youth Chairman in Ibeno, Christopher Itia, said that the youths were aggrieved due to their marginalisation by the state government and ExxonMobil.
“We are their host community, but they are not treating us as if we are part of them. The multinational oil company terminated over 500 contract staff in Ibeno alone,” he lamented, even as he decried the state of portable water and light in Ibeno community, their host community. “ExxonMobil is here but we do not have potable water, no electricity and we are the host community. Ibeno is supposed to be a heaven on earth,” Itia added, even as he called on Governor Udom Emmanuel to complete the Eket/Ibeno Road, which had been inaugurated without completion.
He also decried the activities of sea piracy, which according to him, had stopped fishermen from going to sea to fish, saying that last week the pirates stole four outboard engines from some fishermen in waterways. While regretting that the only cottage hospital in Ibeno was nothing to write about, and said that no doctors, no nurse and no facility to treat patients, the group noted: “We are pleading with Governor Emmanuel and the Federal Government to step into the matter and help the community.
Reacting to the development, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Ini Ememobong said that their grievances were already noted, saying that the governor had not abandoned the Eket Ibeno Road project.
He further explained that the state government had not also marginalised the youths of Ibeno, stressing that every local government area has a youth caucus that represents the youths. The Commissioner, who noted that the state government would provide jobs for youths of Akwa Ibom State and pointed out that there were opportunities for engagement with the state government, said plans were on ground for inter-ministerial jobs for the youths of the state.