A’Ibom restates committment to security of rural communities,reads riot act to foreign companies

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By Ogenyi Ogenyi,Uyo

Akwa Ibom State Government has said investors operating in the communities should be able to identify and make known to them those working for them because it is interested in the security of rural communities in the state.

It has also said it would take all necessary measures to ensure that foreigners do not import arms into the state under the guise of working for some foreign companies, hence the need for proper documentation and profiling of all expatriates working in foreign organisations in the state.

A former Attorney-General of the state and Director General Akwa Ibom Government Business, Chief Assam Assam(SAN) gave the charge while presiding over a meeting involving the Ministry of Labour and Manpower Planning and Sterling Global Ltd, an oil firm operating in Eastern Obolo, Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin Local Councils yesterday.

Assam who is Chairman of Tripartite Negotiation committee recently set up by Governor Umo Eno following complaints from the three Councils on operations and activities of Sterling Global, expressed disappointment that the company’s representatives could not comply with the directive to provide names, and positions of its workers during the meeting.

The former Nigeria’s ambassador to Russia insisted that the company should disclose the status of all the people working on its project in the state including the expartriates, stressing that he had expected the representative to be transparent in the negotiations to resolve the current crisis they have with their host communities

“We are interested in the security of our state, and the communities are the most affected if there’s insecurity. We will not permit people to operate in our communities if we don’t know them. It doesn’t matter who they are.

“So I asked that you give us the list of all your expatriates working with you. The second thing I asked for during the last meeting we had was the list of all companies working for your establishment because, number one they must comply with our local content rules.

“And two where they have no offices and they are not resident, they must be made to be resident here. The Roads they drive on, the water they drink, the security that is given to them the Safety they enjoy is because government pays money. We need to know those working for your company.

“In the last meeting I had said that if you know that you don’t have the capacity to answer to the issues pertaining to this negotiation you should not be here to waste my time. And you have come here today to tell me that you don’t have the capacity to present documents on the people you said you employed.

“I had told you if you don’t have the capacity don’t call me to sit with you and negotiate, let me adopt other method of of dealing with the matter.So, failure to deliver on these demands we will revoke all the licenses that have been given to you.

“We will revoke all the lands that have been given to you by Akwa Ibom state government. And we will stop all expatriates who you cannot identify working within your facility. We don’t want people to import arms into our communities.” Assam insisted.

When asked earlier for documents it was asked to present at the meeting, the Human resources Manager, Sterling Global Ltd, Mr David Walker could not provide the list of the staff working for the company, even as he disclosed that a total of 3, 710 people were working on the company’s project.

On whether the document captured the positions and salaries of its staff including expatriates working on the project , Walker simply responded, “No sir because the Expatriates are not Nigerians. This condition of service is only for the nationals”

Fielding questions from newsmen shortly after the meeting, the Commissioner for Labour and Manpower Planning, Mr Aniefiok Nkom noted that, “this is the second meeting we are having with the company on issues that bothers on the way they (Sterling Global) are operating in Akwa Ibom state.

“Like you saw in the meeting, the people who came to represent the company we believe are impostors. They don’t have the capacity to represent that company and they are not being truthful to us.” Nkom said.

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