By Edifon ABASI-OBOT
Akwa Ibom State Government has restated its commitment to protect the rights of citizens of the State in their relationship with oil servicing companies, even as it urges discontented groups relations to maintain the prevailing peace in the State amid justifiable labour rights agitations.
The Commissioner for Economic Development, Labour and Manpower Planning, Barrister Ekong Sampson, made the position known while playing host to the Akwa Ibom State Executive Council of Nigeria Youth Initiative Forum, in Uyo.
The Commissioner thanked the group for galvanizing opinion that should protect the interest of workforce, especially the youths and for uniting to articulate the interests for Akwa Ibom people, in terms of labour rights. He also thanked the forum for appreciating the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led government and speaking well of the Governor’s second term bid.
Barrister Sampson acknowledged that Akwa Ibom State is so richly endowed and that such endowment should form a fulcrum of benefits for her people. Hence he commended the Akwa Ibom State chapter the Forum for working in tandem with the expectations of people, who need to get more from employers, especially oil servicing companies.
He noted the concerns presented by the group and assured that State Government will make sure the rights of Akwa Ibom people are protected in their relationships with the oil servicing companies, in line with existing regulations, and make efforts to bring non-compliant firms to the table.
The Labour Commissioner however noted that these should be pursued in such a manner that would not upset the peace of the State.
He described State Governor Udom Emmanuel as a peaceful person, who has brought peace to Akwa Ibom State.
According to him, one of the strongest selling point of Governor Emmanuel’s campaign team is the peace that is enjoyed in the State, reiterating that it is important to maintain the peaceful atmosphere to drive the Governor’s campaigns to victory.
The State Chairman of the Nigeria Youth Initiative Forum, Comrade Iboro Imose said his organization was pleased with the support and hope the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration gives to Akwa Ibom youths.
He also thanked Governor Emmanuel for appointing Barrister Sampson to bring his wealth of knowledge to bear in the labour affairs of the State and pledged the commitment of his group to the Governor’s re-election to continue building the great future for the youths.
In an address presented to the Commissioner, he decried the marginalization and deprivation of Akwa Ibom State, especially the youths, by oil servicing companies operating within the State, as regards employment, integration of local contractors, as well as other corporate social responsibilities including community development assistance programmes.
Comrade Imose particularly pointed out as most recent, the encounter of his Forum with Niger Star 7, a local subsidiary of Subsea 7, a Lagos based servicing company and other sister companies which, according to him, are currently executing substantial contracts for Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited offshore and onshore, within the Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) operational area.
Consequently, the forum, according to the Chairman, demanded that Akwa Ibom State Government should prevail upon Niger Star 7 Limited to accommodate local contractors within the catchment area, coastal region and the State in award of sub-contracts, as well as ensure judicious distribution of employment in accordance with the ExxonMobil Community and Labour Relations Guidelines, among other demands.
Imose however assured the Honourable Commissioner of the readiness of his forum to collaborate with the State Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Manpower Planning in the interest of Akwa Ibom youths. He also tendered his forum’s plea for His Excellency, the Governor’s assent to the Bill for a Law to create and Regulate Job Opportunities for Indigenes of Akwa Ibom State and Other Matters Incidental Thereto which, he opined will boast the labour activities in the state.