Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has warned the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) that the state will no longer bear its disdainful attitude towards the people of the state.
Speaking at a meeting with the management of Shell at the Abia State Government House, Umuahia, Ikpeazu frowned at the non-remittance of taxes to the state government just as he wondered why the company has neglected oil producing communities, where its oil exploration activities have caused untold health and environmental challenges to the life and properties of the people.
Shell has been operating in Ukwa West local government area of the state since 1958, and long before the creation of Abia State in 1991.
According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Enyinnaya Appolos, Ikpeazu, who convened the meeting with Shell after his recent tour of oil installations at Owaza and other oil bearing communities in the state, noted that the meeting is aimed at resolving the issues of neglect of oil communities in Ukwa West as well as address the non-remittance of taxes to the state government by oil companies.
He said, “I am aware that previous attempts to get Shell to pay tax to Abia State failed, which means we are only oil producing state on paper. What it means also is that you don’t even have people of the oil bearing communities working in your company since their taxes cannot be paid to Abia. Your workers live in Port Harcourt and work in Abia. What will happen if you employ our people who will live and work in our state?”
While he commended the youth of the oil communities for their peaceful disposition to the oil company, he however said that there is need for the company to review its relations with their host community and the state government.
“Shell has not been very fair to Abia State and the Ukwa West people in particular. I do not see why there is no Shell office with staff in Umuahia, even if it is just for the management of their office sweepers. If it is just to rent a flat and put Shell logo there so that if the oil communities want to complain they go there. It is very provocative.”