Has GPOC also joined the politics of illegal annexation?
By Tap Pai GatdetOPINION – Greater Pioneer Operating Company (GPOC) recently advertised financial support for students from communities that host it, leaving out Guit County which is an integral part of oil producing counties in Unity State and Unity oilfield in particular. Manga in Kuerbuokni of Wathnyotni payam, Guit County is one of the leading areas with oil that GPOC is exploring. Any support rendered by the company to the host communities shouldn’t evade Guit county. Doing otherwise is a clear indication that the company through manipulative actions of the people of Ruweng, is refuting the fact that Manga is a land inhabited by Jikany since time immemorial.
In a notice(letter) that outlined the requirements for any processes of financial support to students of Unity State and Ruweng Adminstrative Area, I was disheartened with seeing that Guit County wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the letter.
The communities whose students are to be supported comprised of; Rubkotna County, Mayom County, Parieng County and Abiemnom county, the latter two are controversially conjoined through the presidential decree in 2015, when the president created twenty-eight-turned-thirty-two states. Though there’s no visible border between the two counties, the president joined them to form a state, now an administrative area and annexing other communities’ ancestral habitats in the process. The subject matter of my writing however is not to expound on the presidential decree. I am rather questioning the impartiality of GPOC as an oil company that only works to explore oil in Unity State and that owes all the host communities an equitable treatment.
The problems faced by communities around the oilfield (Unity) are dire. They are not however faced only by Rubkona, Mayom, Abiemnom and Parieng, Guit also has been bearing the brunt of the irresponsibility of oil extraction by this company. If today there comes an opportunity to recompense these communities, leaving Guit out is condemnable.
This malicious act by GPOC towards Jikany is not one of a kind. GPOC has in many accounts demonstrated that it’s been manipulated so as to marginalize Jikany community in all aspects. Leaving out Jikany students from the financial support scheme is only one of the symptoms of this marginalization. Below are the other grudges we hold against GPOC as Jikany youth and intellectuals;
- The counties of Mayom, Rubkona, Parieng and Abiemnom are represented at GPOC community Development (CD) department and Guit is not represented with even a single staff.
- Guit community is not availed with services such as clean drinking water, roads network, clinics etc. unlike its other counterparts.
- Guit capable sons and daughters are excluded from the GPOC oil field employment opportunities. The few that are working there are mostly not contractual but casual workers. Those who have contracts are humiliatingly less as compared to other employed sons of other communities.
This partiality of GPOC stems from the fact that it unrealistically considers Manga as a land belonging to people of Parieng, implying that Jikany doesn’t deserve to be represented equally with other communities. This is a wishful thinking from the company and deserves every bit of contempt. The company (GPOC) may be acting to appease the people of Parieng today because they have the president’s backing. They (people of Parieng) should however put in mind that the advantage they have today is only a dead-end one. Destroying bridges between them and their longtime friends (neighboring communities) will make them regret terribly one day.
I call on Jikany community leadership, both in Juba and Bentiu to reach to the authorities concerned, especially the ministry of petroleum and the office of the president to put forward our discontent as a community with GPOC. Guit youth and intellectuals should too stop being silent. When propaganda are used to our disadvantage by those who wish us not well, we must make sure the world acknowledges our right through advocacy and legal ways.
My appeal to the government of South Sudan is to look into this matter and give it special attention because it may jeopardize the peace we aspire to implement in letter and spirit as a country. The state government too should try efforts to solve this matter.
The author is a student at Makerere University in Uganda. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in the ‘OPINIONS & ANALYSIS’ section of the Sudans Post are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibi