The people of Umuobasiukwu Alayi Autonomous Community in Aba North Local Government Area of Abia State on Wednesday barred staff of Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), Alaoji Power Station from entering into their company.
The Nation gathered that the community members who had arrived the premises of the power plant at about 2am used palm front and erected a canopy in front of the main gate leading into the establishment.
Sources at the plant said that all efforts by the staff of the establishment to persuade the women and other members of the community to rescind their actions proved abortive as they insisted that their needs must be met.
No official of the NDPHC could speak to our reporter as a combined team of Police and Soldiers at the security checkpoint in front of the power plant gate couldn’t allow our reporter speak to the women or disclose the whereabouts of the officials of the plant.
An anonymous source at the facility told our reporter that because of the inability of their colleagues on morning duty to gain entrance into the facility, those of them on night duty were asked to stay back to continue working.
Another source in the community who pleaded to speak anonymous because of his safety told The Nation that they decided to protest what he described as marginalization from the community.
“How can a company sited in our community be generating electricity and yet, the immediate community doesn’t have power? Look at our roads. The road that you rode into the community has been like that after President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the project towards the end of his regime, if you can remember.
“They took our lands, built this project but I can tell you that they are short-changing us, in terms of employment. As we speak, members of the local vigilante are also protesting inside the premises because the contractor that hired their services is owing them for about six months.
“In the past, if we protest, they will use the police and army to scare us away from the facility. The women have been there since morning. I am sure that you saw the pot of corn which they cooked and ate as their breakfast. Let them point to one thing that they have done in this community since the establishment of that power plant which is among the 10 NIPP (Nigerian National Integrated Power Project). We are not going to back out.
“Go to Rivers State, AFAM VI, they supply electricity to their host community free of charge. It is the same thing in Sapele, Calabar and elsewhere. Why is our own case different?
“The Chief Operating Officer of the plant came and addressed the protesters, but his explanations weren’t satisfactory to us. We will keep mounting pressure and the picketing on them will continue until the management of the plant fulfills their bargain of performing their corporate social responsibilities and meet other of our demands,” the source stated.
Nigerian National Integrated Power Project was established in 2004 to address the issue of insufficient power generation and excessive gas flaring from oil exploration in the Niger delta region.