A large number of residents of Ugborodo community in the Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State have protested against a contractor of Chevron Corporation, Jad Catering Service, for reneging on terms of agreement and demanded that the contractor be replaced.
The protesters stormed the Chevron Corporation headquarters in Lekki, Lagos State, on Tuesday.
It was gathered that Jad Group, a Lebanese–owned company, had been contracted by Chevron to provide catering services for Chevron workers in the Ugborodo community since 2009.
The company reportedly had an agreement to pay royalty to the community which it allegedly failed to do.
The residents said the firm had also deliberately refused to carry out any corporate social responsibility project in the community.
One of the protesters and the National President of the Coastal Women Forum in Nigeria, Ms Deborah Edah, said the company no longer enjoyed the backing of the community since it had failed to honour the agreement between them, adding that the community wanted the firm to leave.
She said, “When they wanted the catering job with Chevron, the management called the community to support the company’s bid; and about a year into its operation, the firm started misbehaving. We have waited nine years for things to get better, we cannot afford to go through another nine years of hardship.
“Jad’s contract expired since May 2017. There is a new bid now to award fresh contract and Jad wants to take it. Jad is not supposed to be a lifetime contractor with Chevron. There are other companies that are better; they should be given the opportunity too.
“Jad should leave; my community produces over 25 per cent of the oil that runs the economy of this nation, and there is nothing to show for it. Jad has zero corporate social responsibility.”
An Ugborodo leader, Prince Omunu, said the company owed the community about N1.5bn.
“When they got the contract nine years ago, they agreed to pay certain amount to the community; but up till now, they have not paid. They owe us about N1.5bn. The community people are insisting that they don’t want them anymore. That is why we are here; to let Chevron know that Jad should leave the community,” Omunu said.
A former executive member of Ugborodo Community Trust, Bawo Neburagho, said the agitation of the community was also because the contractor had never been to the community.
The immediate past secretary of the community trust, Benson Babine, said the essence of the protest was to stop Chevron from re-awarding the contract to Jad.
“The firm’s contract expired in 2017. Since Jad don’t honour agreements, it cannot get the community’s backing again.”
A member of the community, Ms Edith Amatotsero, said the residents wanted people that would treat them like they matter.
Amatotsero said, “Community people should benefit from Jad because it is our sweat and blood. That oil is our own. Our leaders have spoken to the firm on several occasions and nothing has been done. We went for a protest in Warri; now we are here in Lagos.”
Reacting to the protest, the Manager of Communication, Chevron Corporation, Shola Adebawo, said the issue was not a social issue to them but a legal issue.
He said, “On the part of the community, it is a social issue, but on our side, it is a legal issue. Since the community was the one that forced the company on us in the first place, we would need time to work on it. Once a contract is signed, it is no longer moral, it becomes legal.
“Contract issues are not issues that can be resolved in one day; the community should give us time to work on it. We are discussing with everyone involved.
‘In Chevron, we follow the law and whatever we have our signature on binds us. If there are changes, we discuss it. It was the same community that recommended Jad in the first place and if the community is passing a vote of no confidence on Jad, it has to go through legal process.”
When newsmen called a number found on Jad website, an official of the company, who did not mention her name, said there was nobody available to speak on the issue.