A massive protest planned by the Rivers State Youth Federation at the Supply Base of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), Onne, Rivers state, was on Wednesday by the Department of State Security Services (DSS).
The protesting youth, in their hundreds, had assembled in Onne and were about marching to SNEPCO supply base when Ateke Tom, former Niger Delta warlord, and the DSS director in the state, prevailing on them to allow dialogue.
Saviour Patrick, national president of the Rivers State Youth Federation, was subsequently invited into a meeting with the duo to discuss the grievances of the youth.
The youth had expressed dissatisfaction with the move by Shell to relocate its supply base from Onne, Rivers state, to Lagos.
Last month, youth under the aegis of the Onne Youths Council (OYC) staged a peaceful protest at the SNEPCO supply base, asking the company to rescind its decision to relocate the base from the free zone to the Lagos port.
Philip John Tenwa, president of OYC, who led the protest, said the planned relocation would lead to the loss of more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“We are here today on behalf of our numerous members and indeed the entire Onne Community to draw the attention of the Nigerian government and indeed the world to the plan by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) to relocate its Supply Base from the Onne Port to Lagos. Indeed, SNEPCO last week surreptitiously directed that all its property and equipment including turbines, engine spares and miscellaneous equipment spares be loaded into containers and moved out of the Onne Port, where it had operated for more than 20 years, to another port in Lagos,” he had said.
“This move by SNEPCO has serious and far-reaching implications for the Onne community and indeed the entire Rivers State. This is because SNEPCO, which is the operator of the Bonga field, at present, supports more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs at its Supply Base in Onne. There are also several small businesses and contractors whose businesses and fortunes are tied to SNEPCO.”
Some SNPECO staff have also opposed the plan to relocate the supply base, calling on the federal government to halt the move in the interest of jobs and development of the Niger Delta region.