Rivers State House of Assembly

 A collision course is imminent between the Rivers State House of Assembly and major international oil and gas companies operating in the state as the former over the week summoned the Managing Directors of Exxon Mobil Oil Producing Company and Total Nigeria Oil Company to appear before in seven days’ time.

Chairman of House Committee on Public Petitions, Hon, Evans Bipi, made the invitation yesterday during a public sitting over petition made by Youths from Ogu about the failure of the two multinationals to carry out corporate social responsibility on its host communities.

Bipi who was bothered by the failure of the two multinational companies to defend themselves, alongside other members of the committee, expressed dissatisfaction over the representation made by the companies.

“Total and Mobil are operating at the disadvantage of their host communities and we will invoke Sections 128 and 129 of the constitution should they fail to appear here in the next seven days”, Bipi declared.

Government Relations Manager of Total Fina Elf, Royal Godwin’s, told the committee that the company had operations and logistics stations in Ikpokiri in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area and has been carrying out some community development projects.

However, Hon. Bipi observed that the explanations made were not sufficient as the key officials of the companies failed to respond to the allegations levelled against it.

Bipi, the Ogu/Bolo lawmaker, assured that the youths will not take laws into their hands, saying that “Total needs the community to operate and the community needs support from Total, so we as a committee will ensure there is an understanding between us.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders from labour, private and public sectors have commended the state government for initiating the Rivers State Contributory Health Protection Programme bill, 2019.

State Chairperson of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Beatrice Itubo and her counterpart from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Thankgod Jonah, said as far as the scheme was not compulsory, it was a welcome development.

While lauding the government for evolving the scheme, they both lamented that labour was not included in the board of management of the programme and therefore should be included.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, and Solicitor General, Florence Fiberesima, who spoke for the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, disclosed that the bill is in five parts dealing with the aim, membership and management, administration and Non-governmental participation, including dispute and arbitration, expressed confidence that it will transform health care delivery.

Chairman, House Committee on Health, Hon. Sam Ogeh, said the aim of the public hearing was for stakeholders to make inputs and reflect the peoples view on how the bill should be implemented.

Ogeh said Rivers State is among the few states in the federation that has initiated such policy, and as such health care delivery is expected to be much more accessible to the citizenry.