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Nigeria: Women Protestors Say Deal With Chevron Off

by Andrew MarshallBBC
July 16th, 2002

Women protesters who have besieged an oil terminal in southern Nigeria for more than a week say they will continue their blockade.

Earlier, it seemed as if a deal to resolve the situation could be close. However the women said negotiators for the Chevron oil company were not "sincere" and were not committing themselves to anything by way of agreement.

One of the women told the BBC's Robert Efenakpo that they will remain at the terminal until the company is ready to discuss the situation. Our correspondent says the protesters, who are supported by their menfolk, are very determined.

The women say that Chevron may have agreed to employ youths from their community, but that the oil giant did not give any numbers.

They say the multinational has not specified either how it is going to go about providing the amenities it has promised in the framework of the deal.

U-turn

Earlier on Tuesday, one of the protest leaders, Anunu Uwawah, told the Associated Press news agency: "It is settled. We stay today, but once the paper is signed, we will leave."

She said the firm - Chevron Nigeria - had satisfied the women's demands by agreeing to hire more than two dozen villagers and build schools, water systems and other amenities.

About 800 workers remain trapped in the Escravos terminal in southern Delta state, after about 400 workers were allowed to leave the site on Sunday.

Some 150 women took over the terminal eight days ago, demanding employment for their families and investment in the local community.

The occupation of the terminal has halted the production of an estimated 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

Company Pledge

An executive of parent company Chevron Texaco, Dick Filgate, said he hoped the deal would be finalized by Tuesday, the news agency reported.

According to Mr Filgate, the company has agreed to build a town hall in the village of Ugborodo - home to many of the protesters - and build schools and power and water systems.

"We now have a different philosophy, and that is do more with communities," AP quoted Mr Filgate as saying following talks with the women.

He said the deal would be reviewed in five years' time.

As part of their protest, the women have also threatened to strip naked in a traditional gesture of shaming men if no satisfactory deal is reached.

Many Nigerian tribes consider displays of nudity by wives, mothers and grandmothers as a damning protest and an act that shames all those it is aimed at.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil-producer but protests are common in oil-producing regions by local communities, demanding that more of the oil wealth is used for their benefit.

Copyright 2002 BBC





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