The youths at the gate of Haliburton

Okafor Ifiebor/Port Harcourt

Score of youths from Oginigba, the host Community of American oil services,  Halliburton, in Trans-Amadi, Obio/Akpor local government area, of Rivers State early Wednesday morning barricaded the entrance to the company.

The youths claimed that they were protesting the sack of some of the firm’s workers who were indigenes of the community

The protesting youths who also claimed to be members of National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN  placed fetish materials like palm leaves, native pots among others to barricade all entrances to the company’s premises.

“They mean business. They brought in canopies, musical drums, cooking pots and others. It has has been carnival. But one unfortunate scenario is that they are not obeying COVID-19 protocols. Most of are not wearing face masks”.

“So far, they have not been violent. They just singing and dancing with placards with varying inscriptions like “Don’t sack our Youths”, “Give us jobs”, “Call our Youths back”, NYCN is against sack of Rivers Youths in Halliburton etc,” a source told PM NEWS over the telephone.

As at the time of filing this report, Comrade Ihunwo Chijioke, the Chairman of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) Rivers State chapter and South-South zone, has arrived at the scene and was trying to initiate a process of negotiation between the protesting youths and the company.

It was also observed that policemen, with not less than five vehicles are already at the scene to ensure that no violence erupts at the place.

However, no representative of company has come out to address the protesting youths or meet with their representatives at the time of filing in this report.

One of the protesters who gave his name as Nnamdi Amadi said the youths decided to stage the protest at the gate of Halliburton because the management is not friendly to residence of Oginigba, the host community.

“No indigene of Oginigba is in the management position of the company. Even when they only employ us in the junior cadre the company, they still sack us for no reason. We are not leaving this gate until they answer us and recall all the sacked workers. It is no retreat, no surrender.”

None of the Company representative could be reached for comments.

Meanwhile in a press statement signed by Amadi Eze, his Senior Special Assistant on (Media & Publicity) Chijioke condemned the sack of Rivers State youths by Halliburton.

He said sometime this year, 2020, Halliburton sacked some youths of Rivers State for no substantial reason and without any take home benefit. All attempts have been made for Halliburton to rescind on their decision all to no avail.

“It is horrific that Halliburton a supposedly global brand, would descend low to carry out a barbaric treatment on it’s workers at this time when people are finding it difficult to survive. The Chairman is certain that Halliburton will never contemplate talk less of exercising the cruel, underhand and servile treatment it mete out to Rivers State youths in it’s employment to it’s staff in the United States or European countries where it maintains operations.”

The Chairman NYCN said it is sure that Halliburton would never attempt to infringe on the laws of western countries where it is operating. The Chairman is at loss why Halliburton would decide to deploy double standards in it’s treatment of Rivers State youths in it’s employment. It is difficult to understand why Halliburton believes that Rivers State youths should be treated with disdain while workers from other regions are to be pampered and given high regard in the company.

According to Ihunwo “In view of this culture of arbitrariness, discrimination, high handedness, impunity, disrespect and sack of Rivers State youths, the Chairman demand that Halliburton must recall the Rivers State youths sacked from it’s employment, render an unreserved public apology for the inhumane treatment meted against Rivers State youths and set in motion mechanisms for the restatement of the sacked workers or face a full blown protest by the entire youths of Rivers State

The Chairman also call on the Rivers State Government to intervene swiftly to avoid an unnecessary disruption and hemorrhage on the state economy.