SACA engaged CDBs with SPDC managers on a number of occasions to highlight the importance of transparency and accountability. At these meetings Chairmen of Cluster Boards were obliged to give financial accounts and clarify issues regarding costs and awarding of contracts before their community representatives. We were particularly pleased with the SPDC managers in their holding the Chairmen to account in these gatherings.
SACA also organized a number of stakeholders gatherings with Okordia-Zarama cluster, Shell, Bayelsa State Government and other stakeholders, to review the GMOU, study the conflict situations arising from the operations of the company and proffer recommendations for improvement.
In each of such gathering, we engaged the services of professional arbitrators to facilitate the gatherings and provide level playing grounds for all stakeholders to air their honest views about the GMoU process, the successes and the challenges.
We were also pleased how the SPDC managers encouraged community representatives to speak their minds and not hide issues. This was a liberating experience for the community leaders. It clarified issues and reduced tensions. However, this gathering needs to be held regularly and proactively, and with SPDC managers in attendance. The GMoU directives that the CDBs meet monthly with CTs to discuss finances, etc., and report to the communities is not happening enough.
In Okordia-Zarama cluster the Youth president explained that the CT met the community six times in the year. This is so different from some communities who insist that the CT never met for once. A traditional ruler in Gbarain-Ekpetiama Cluster alleged that no meetings were held in his Cluster, that the CDB were running it as a ‘personal enterprise’.