General news

FG commends SPDC over peace with host communities



By Desmond Ejibas

The Federal Public Complaints Commission (PCC), on Saturday commended Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over its peace and development initiatives in its host communities in Rivers.

Mr Marshall Israel, the Federal Commissioner representing Rivers in PCC, gave the commendation when he presented the commission’s ‘Ambassador of Peace Award’ to SPDC in Port Harcourt.

Israel said the commission decided to honour SPDC due to its commitment to resolving all cases with aggrieved parties through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

“In 2018, we met with SPDC and shared the idea of conflict resolution with them as we had a lot of complaints and cases against them.

“After meeting them, the company agreed to our proposal for ADR with the aggrieved parties.

“Thereafter, we began engagement as well as held conferences, where we brought together the respondents and complainants to discuss and resolve whatever issues they had.

“Through adoption of ADR and SPDC’s commitment to ensuring that we have peace and development returned to Rivers state, a lot of disputes have been resolved,” he said.

Israel said out of the 230 cases against SPDC, PCC had so far resolved 120 and discarded 70 cases for lack of merit while 40 were still pending.

He said the complaints were mostly from communities in Etche and Ikwerre local government areas of the state.

According to him, peace and stability is the only panacea to attracting investors and investment in any country.

“So, we try to discourage litigation by dissuading people from going to the courts, but rather come to a roundtable and discuss to settle issues.

“So, we are honouring SPDC with the Ambassador of Peace Award for their commitment to peace and development of the Niger Delta, particularly Rivers state,’’ he added.

The commissioner said the commission had also received complaints from some International Oil Companies (IOC), who expressed displeasure over alleged embezzlement of huge funds released to some of its host communities.

He further said that PCC had viewed files, vouchers and cheques issued as proof of the IOCs support to some of their host communities without anything to show for it.

“We are worried that some people in various communities embezzle funds from IOCs instead of putting the monies into the wellbeing of their communities. This must stop.

“We have visited some of these communities and could not see the projects to which funds were released by the IOCs,” he said.

Mr Igo Weli, SPDC General Manager, External Relations, who received the award on behalf of the company’s Managing Director and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, thanked PCC for the recognition.

He expressed willingness of the oil giant to engage with groups or individuals who decides to engage the company toward finding a common ground to resolving their differences.

“So, we need to adopt constructive ways and manage our disagreement in a way that doesn’t scare investors or create unease in the society.

“A lot of people don’t know they have alternatives to settling disputes, so most people go to court to litigate or resort to self-help which does not help anyone.

“SPDC is not a perfect company as there are no perfect companies in the world. But we try really hard to impact positively on the people and society,’’ he assured. (NAN)


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