National assets and operations at the Nigerian Ports Authority, including the Onne oil and gas free zone in Eleme local government area of Rivers State, are under threat following two days of protest by youths in the area over alleged marginalisation by the companies there.
The Onne youths who began their protests on Monday had blocked the entrance of the free zone for two days, expressing dismay that despite hosting over 50 companies, the people have no jobs, while the area remains underdeveloped.
Scores of them who spoke to journalists said the NPA, Onne Ports, which houses the Federal Ocean Terminal have not impacted on their lives despite operating on their land for decades.
The youths said they were part of the ongoing protest against police brutality and an end to bad governance, even as they demanded a separate local government from Eleme.
They said Onne given its landmass, population and resources was viable enough to have a separate local government and called on the government to look into it.
One of them said, “We are not only saying EndSARS, we are also saying no to marginalization; no to unemployment. The NPA is here, look at all the land occupied by the FOT, the FLT (Federal Lighter Terminal) and all the companies, but we are not feeling their impacts.
“No jobs; no development. We cannot continue like this. If they don’t employ us, they will not operate here again. We are also asking for a separate local government out of Eleme.”
When contacted, an official of the NPA who pleaded anonymity said employment was controlled from the headquarters, adding that recently online recruitment was advertised for qualified persons to apply.
The official lauded the protesting youths for being peaceful since the protest began, adding that the authority was already looking into the demands presented to it.
The official stated. “What they are requesting for, the Ports management has been able to do one or two. They are looking at the issues with them too and we are try to calm their nerves so that they can allow movement in and out of the ports.
“If they say they are not employed, it is a Federal Government issue because we don’t employ in the ports. But we are appealing to them not to take laws into their hands by not blocking the company’s entrance.
“We are hoping that the talks will come out well for us and the youths.”