A multi-national oil company operating in Akwa Ibom State, ExxonMobil, said it has spent the sum of N170 million on peace building programmes to enhance its smooth operation and development of host communities.

The Company’s General Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Mr. Nigel Cookey-Gam disclosed this on Saturday at Eket in Akwa Ibom at the formal flag off of the programme tagged Community Investment Programme.

He explained that the programme was one of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company and Mobil Producing Nigeria joint venture initiatives dedicated to engaging the youths positively on the virtue of peaceful engagement.

Cookey-Gam said that the programme was specifically targeted for the youths of the host communities of Eket, Esit Eket, Ibeno and Onna local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State.

“The NNPC/MPN Joint Venture is here for the long haul and is re-positioning to deliver greater value to the community, Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria,” Cookey-Gam said.

Flagging off the programme, the Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Transport and Petroleum Resources, Mr Orman Esin, urged ExxonMobil to increase its budgetary allocation to the community investment programme in the state.

Esin noted that the N170 million earmarked for the peace and capacity building programme for the youths was grossly inadequate given the priceless value of peace and industrial harmony in oil bearing communities.

He further urged the multi-national oil company to make the community investment programme a yearly programme, adding that the youths were in dire need of job opportunities and capacity development.

Esin also advised the youth to remain peaceful and allow the company to operate, promising that he would engage the companies until the demands of the communities are met.

In his address, the ExxonMobil Joint Venture Operations General Manager, Mr. Tom Benjaminsen, noted that so far in 2019 alone, the company had witnessed 25 cases of blockades, seizures and attacks on contractors.

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He noted that the frequent cases of harassment were major constraints to the successful operation of the company and delivering of critical economic lifeline to the communities in the state.

“I wish to appeal to our respected community leaders to continue to mentor our youths to always explore peaceful avenues for resolution of issues,” Benjaminsen pleaded.

In her speech, the Executive Director, Community Partners for Development, Dr. Nsekpong Udoh, said that CPD was one of the organisations involved in the implementation of the peace building programmes for the youths in the areas.

Udoh said her organization would handle the peace and conflict resolution component of the programme for the youths of Eket, Esit Eket, Ibeno and Onna local government areas for industrial harmony in ExxonMobil host communities.

She assured that the programme would inculcate in the youths the courage to address conflict situations by sharing feelings, needs and engaging in dialogue adding that participants would be trained on the skills of arbitration, mediation and conciliation and how to apply appropriate dialogue and edutainment

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