A group, Akwa Ibom Core Oil Bearing Community Vanguard, has called on ExxonMobil affiliates in Nigeria operating in Akwa Ibom State to state what their contribution to the fight against Coronavirus in the state.
The group, in a statement on Monday in Uyo signed by its President, Iwaad Patrick Abia and Secretary-General, Barr Enyinnah Gwunireama, said ExxonMobil has failed to demonstrate good corporate citizenship and love for the people of its core host communities and the state in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group said it was disappointed at ExxonMobil's uncaring attitude towards core oil-bearing communities and the State Government since Coronavirus broke out, noting that smaller oil companies that are facing similar market uncertainties as ExxonMobil was helping to alleviate the hardship the COVID-19 lockdown has forced on households in the state.
"We have seen individuals and organisations donate sacrificially to the State Government, communities, households and individuals during this crisis. Notable among the public-spirited organisations in the state that have contributed to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are United Bank for Africa (UBA), Inoyo Toro Foundation, Sterling Oil Group, Moni Pulo, Hensek and others.
"To us, every organisation or individual who has made what would be considered the minutest contribution to the state, communities and individuals, has demonstrated true humanity.
"To our greatest surprise, the state is gradually opening up after five weeks of lockdown. And, ExxonMobil, a leading international oil company operating in Akwa Ibom State, which has over the years prided herself as a friendly corporate citizen, has failed to demonstrate true humanity, corporate citizenship and sympathy with her core host communities and Akwa Ibom State during this very trying period.
The group lauded Sterling Oil Group and Moni Pulo for donating sacrificially to Akwa Ibom state towards the fight against Coronavirus despite the global uncertainties facing operators in the petroleum sector, saying that the companies have proven what it is to be a friend.
"We were humbled by the very audacious and heart-warming donations made by marginal oil field operators, who are by far less ExxonMobil's contemporaries, to the State Government towards the fight against COVID-19. We are not oblivious of the challenges key players in the petroleum upstream sector are facing because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
"We are pleased and very grateful to Sterling Oil Group and Moni Pulo, who despite facing the same economic uncertainties every other player in the petroleum upstream sector is facing, still braced up and demonstrated true corporate citizenship and love for humanity in this moment of crisis. Indeed, these two companies have proven that 'a friend in need is a friend indeed'.
The group noted with regret that though ExxonMobil wishes to be seen as a friendly citizen, it has shied away from addressing issues such as gas flaring, oil spill and relocation of her administrative base to Akwa Ibom State.
"ExxonMobil has treated issues of gas flaring and oil spill in core oil-bearing communities as well as the relocation of her headquarters to Akwa Ibom state with inane levity. The company has also been found wanting in accurate remittance of taxes due to the Akwa Ibom State Government.
"For instance, on February 4, 2020, Akwa Ibom Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS) served a notice of tax default and non-compliance on ExxonMobil. That the company defaults in tax remittance in Akwa Ibom state - a crime the company cannot commit in Houston, Texas - has divested ExxonMobil of the toga of a friendly corporate citizen.
"The Coronavirus outbreak has again exposed the make-believe reputation of ExxonMobil. The wish image, which the company earnestly desires is to be seen as an institution that cares, but the company has repeatedly and deliberately shied away from working towards it, when it matters most, like in the case of this Coronavirus crisis.
The group called on Akwa Ibom State Government to publish the contribution made by ExxonMobil in the fight against Covid-19 in the state if any.