ITSEKIRIS PROTEST, DECRY MARGINALIZATION IN NDDC
A coalition of Itsekiri social groups; the Itsekiri Coalition Movement (ICM), has given the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) a 21-day ultimatum to commence attending to its list of demands, bordering on issues of development and marginalization, or face the wrath of Itsekiri nation.
The group, which led a crowd of angry protesters to the Warri Area office of the NDDC in Ejeba on Thursday, also called for the sack of the Commissioner representing Delta state on the board of the commission, Dr Ogaga Ifowodo, whom it accused of ethnic bias and incompetence.
The protesters, who were effectively contained and prevented from accessing the premises of the area office by a combined team of soldiers and policemen, created a huge scene around the area, causing traffic discomfort along the already narrow Ejeba road.
The protesters, among other allegations, as contained in their communique, alleged that the NDDC had over the years failed to complete key projects in their area, frowning especially at the recent call for contract tenders, with the exclusion of Itsekiri areas in the bid process.
The group, led by Tuoyo Ofuyaekpone, Samuel Khalil and Eddy Olueh, among others, presented a communiqué containing their grievances against the commission to an Assistant Director of the NDDC, Haruna Mazadu, who led other available management personnel to attend to the protesters.
Presenting the communiqué to the commission’s personnel, Olueh, who appeared very angry, said failure of the NDDC to speedily attend to the demands within 21 days would force the group to initiate the next level of the protest, the nature of which he was silent about.
“We came here hoping to meet the commissioner on seat, unfortunately the commissioner who ought to be on seat this morning is no where to be found. Therefore, as a nation we find him incompetent to hold the office of the commissioner and we ask him to tender his letter of resignation or be sacked without delay.
“Having said this, we want to see a road from Warri to Ode-Itsekiri. We want to see the road leading from Omadino to Ode-Ugborodo. We want to see the Koko/Ogheye Road, which has been under construction for more than 6 years, but has yet to go as far as 4 kilometers, yet money has been paid for all of these projects and we are not happy.
“Itsekiri nation is saying no to marginalisation. A couple of days ago they called for tender and our nationality, due to wickedness and a deliberate act by the NDDC, was left out of the tender. This is a slap on our face and we’ll no longer accept it. We are the largest producer of crude oil in Delta state and the second largest producer of crude oil and gas in Nigeria, yet we are being marginalise. This is unacceptable to us and we will no longer accept it.
“Take our massage beyond here; take it to the NDDC office in Port Harcourt and to the Presidency. We are presenting to you our bill of demands, hoping that in the next 21 days this bill of demand will have started being implemented. Itsekiri nation wants to start seeing implementation and all abandoned projects completed, fund our projects because it is our money, give us what belongs to us, we don’t need to beg for it because it’s our right.
“We hope that in 21 days, we would have started seeing the implementation of these demands. However, after 21 days we’ll be forced to take this protest to the next level”, he said.
In his response to the presentation made by the group, an Assistant Director of the commission, Haruna Mazadu, promised that the list of demands would be passed on to the appropriate authorities, adding that necessary actions would be taken.