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Ensure better welfare for host communities, ex-Bayelsa Commissioner, Opuala-Charles urges IOCs

Port Harcourt—A former Commissioner for Finance in Bayelsa State, Dr. Silva Opuala-Charles, Saturday urged International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta region to ensure better welfare for their host communities.

Opuala-Charles, an economist and President of Garden City Premier Business School, stated this while delivering a presentation on Environmental, Social, and Governance Model, during an MCPD Workshop, organized by the Rivers State Chapter of the Institute of Strategic Management Nigeria, in Port Harcourt.

Speaking against the neglect of rural communities by oil companies, he stated that IOCs must ensure corporate sustainability by taking care of the environment and people in the communities where they operate.

He said the oil companies should do better for the rural communities by cleaning up the environment after spillage and creating job opportunities for its people.

“See what oil companies have done, they mess up the environment and don’t clean up. They can still do what they are doing and be taking care of the communities, making sure that the environment and the host communities are taken care of, employing and training them.

“If they had trained a lot of our people today in the riverine community and the Niger Delta, and fifty percent of the employees are from this area, I don’t think they will have the problems they are having,” he said.

Opuala-Charles explained that oil companies have not done much in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as compared to the financial benefits they derive from their operation in the rural areas.

He averred that oil companies can organize well-meaning programmes, training and competitions to keep youths engaged, noting that through this medium, the issues of insecurity and kidnapping in the region can be wiped off.

“CSR is very important. The oil companies and other companies should look at CSR for the youths especially. If the youths are taken care of, this security crisis will reduce.

“Youths have a lot of unused energy and they are looking for what to do with it. So CSR is key and I don’t think they are doing enough on CSR and sports can be a major area.”

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