The angry youths said they decided to shut down the facility when NAOC refused to meet and interface with them on issues affecting them, including employment and the need to implement the content of an existing Memorandum of Understanding.
The youth, who chanted war songs while they formed a blockade around the main entrance to the facility, vowed that the gas plant would remain shut down until NOAC began to do the right thing by listening to them.
Vice President of Omoku Youth Association, Mr. Emeka Ababiri, told our correspondent in a telephone interview that his members began to picket the point where the facility was located in Omoku at about 6am.
Ababiri explained that the youth association had written series of letters to the management of NAOC on the need to have a meeting where they could discuss the way forward, adding that the oil company failed to honour any of the invitations.
He said, “The OB-OB Gas Plant, belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company in Omoku, was shut down at about 6am today (yesterday) by Omoku youths. We are angry because we do not like the way we have been treated by the oil company.
“Agip is situated in Ogbaland, including Omoku, but the company has refused to associate with us, the Omoku Youth Association. We have written series of letters to them for us to interface and look for the way forward.
“Some of the company’s responsibilities under the Memorandum of Understanding, like road rehabilitation and youth employment, have been abandoned and we believe it is time for us to take a bold step and force the company to listen to us.”
Ababiri pointed out that the lingering youth unemployment was responsible for the high rate of crime in the area, adding that no youth would have time to engage in militancy or other forms of crime if he was gainfully employed.
“If the youth work from 6am to 6pm, they would not have time for crime because at the end of the month, it would be to earn a living. That is why we have been writing NAOC to meet with us so that we will discuss the issues and find a way out.
“Unfortunately, they (NAOC) have refused to honour our invitation. That is why we have shut down their facility. The gas plant will remain like this until the company decides to interface with us,” the Omoku Youth Association’s vice president added.
He, however, explained that though the management of the company had shown its readiness to begin negotiation with youths of Omoku, the meeting would no longer commence on Wednesday.
“We have decided that we would meet with them tomorrow because holding the meeting today is no longer possible. They are now ready to talk to us, but negotiation proper will start tomorrow (Thursday).
However, an official of NAOC told our correspondent through the telephone that the firm was not prepared to speak immediately to the media on the matter.