Hundreds of unemployed graduates from the Egbema/Gbaramatu host communities in the Niger Delta besieged Chevron Nigeria Limited’s operational headquarters in the Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State on Monday in a peaceful protest against the oil company’s alleged failure to meet the terms of the Global Memorandum of Understanding it signed with them regarding filling the region’s graduate employment quota.
The demonstrators, who carried placards with varied slogans, also criticized Chevron for allegedly unilaterally dismissing some graduates from the host towns and replacing them with people without the appropriate qualifications from other parts of the country.
Some of the signs read, “Chevron must keep to GMoU terms, employ the 200 deficit jobs for graduates of Egbema/Gbaramatu host towns,” “Chevron, give us our necessary employment,” “Chevron is depriving host communities of graduate employment slots,” and “Chevron, stop diverting.”
When addressing to the press, Tare Olaye, the President of the Egbema/Gbaramatu Graduates, lambasted Chevron for allegedly disobeying the regulations of the Local Content Act, which demand the hiring of a certain amount of people from the host towns.
He also accused Chevron of mistreating graduates from host communities, citing the case of Timmy Okirika, a senior production operator and executive member of the Egbema/Gbaramatu Graduates, who was allegedly fired by Chevron for no reason, despite calls from the National Industrial Court and the National Assembly for his reinstatement.
“Chevron must adhere to the laws of the land,” Olaye said, adding that “the ongoing demonstration will continue until the demands are met.”
Bekenawei Nwachukwu, the founding President of the Gbaramatu Female Graduates, also spoke out, pleading with the government to intervene, pointing out that the protesters included professionals such as engineers and accountants, among others, who had been turned into beggars and were “roaming the streets in their own land.”
John Awe, a policy government and public relations specialist appearing on behalf of Chevron management, admonished demonstrators and invited them to publicly voice their concerns at a future roundtable with management.