–Urge PMB To Sack NDDC Interim Mgt Committee IMC With Immediate Effect
By Wilson Macaulay/ Emma Arubi
The Gbaramatu Kingdom represented by Traditional Council of Chiefs and the Movement for the Development of Itsekiri Oil & Gas Producing Communities, MDIOGPC in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, yesterday (Sunday) at KFT Event Centre in Warri Delta State addressed a joint press conference where they issued a strong statement to back the ultimatum earlier given that they are ready to shut down International Oil Companies operating in their homeland if their demands are not looked into by the President, Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government.
The joint statement signed by Chief Godspower Gbenekama T D A (JP) the Fiyewei (Spokesman) of Gbaramatu Kingdom on behalf of the Traditional Council of Chiefs and Chief Mike Odeli, the Olorogun of Warri Kingdom and Chairman Board of Trustee, Movement for the Development of Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities, threatened that they would do everything possible to truncate the piping of the 614 km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas from Niger Delta estimated at $2.8billion if the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government fails to heed and recommence works at the $16billion Export Processing Zone,EPZ (Gas Revolution Industrial Park,GRIP) in Delta State.
Gbaramatu and the Itsekiri Nation in the joint ultimatum asserted their plan to shut down all oil installations belonging to the multinational oil companies operating in their domains.
The joint communiqué pointed out that the Federal Government abandoned the EPZ Project in the southern part of the country while piping gas from the same source and location to the Northern part, an idea that can best be described as a policy somersault that must be resisted by every means possible.
The statement observed with reservation that it is indeed absurd to imagine the degree and dimension of the various form and tatics of marginalization, criminal neglect of myriads of environmental hazards from the exploration activities of the multinational oil companies over the years.
Continuing, they averred in the ultimatum, saying: “We sure will stop the IOC from operating in our homeland unless the government directs NGC to light up our communities in Itsekiri and Gbaramatu Kingdoms. We cannot be living in darkness. If we cannot have light in our communities, nobody should enjoy light in this country. You cannot take gas from EPZ to AKK.”
Speaking further, the Ijaw and Itsekiri people warned that the Federal Government should not take their threats lightly, stressing that they meant all they said.
To shed more light on the issue for the sake of emphasis, the Ijaw and Itsekiri people, reeled out their demands thus: “The Federal Government should order immediate resumption of work at the Multi-Billion Dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project, GRIP, and the Deep-Sea Port in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to immediately halt the current process of bids for the 57 Marginal Fields whereby the doctrine of necessity should be invoked and applied to incorporate the interest of competent companies owned by Gbaramatu indigenes as well as Itsekiri sons and daughters from oil and gas producing communities given “right of first refusal” on marginal fields in our homelands, before being thrown open to outsiders.
“If competent companies owned by indigenes of Itsekiri oil/gas communities and Gbaramatu people are not considered by DPR for the 57 Marginal Fields with immediate effect, we will be constrained to shut-down operations of the Multi-National Oil and Gas Companies (IOCs) operating in our homelands.
“The Federal Government should direct the relevant MDAs/IOCs to embark on large scale shore protection/sand-filling projects in Itsekiri Oil/Gas producing communities and the Gbaramatu kingdom.
“The Federal Government should institute process for the facilitation of the abandoned age-long Omadino – Escravos Road and the Koko/Ogheye Road Projects, which have remained a mere campaign tool for successive administrations, despite their strategic importance to the socio-economic development of Delta State and the South-Western part of Nigeria.
“The urgent and immediate relocation of the Floating Dock/Ship Building Yard to enhance capacity building for students at the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko as was earlier envisaged.
“Going further, they said : “We demand immediate and comprehensive investigation into what led to millions of dead and rotten fishes that surfaced on the waterways and fish-traps in Gbaramatu Kingdom and coastal Itsekiri communities, with a view to carry out the necessary remediation, so that the needful can be done for those who have suffered loss or damage.
“We strongly demand that the President Buhari-led federal government should direct the IOCs working in our land to revoke and apply the LOCAL CONTENT ACT in their employment regime.
“The Federal Government should instruct Nigerian Port Authority through the Ministry of Transportation to dredge the Escravos Bar-Mouth in order to enhance the optimum usage of the Warri, Koko, Burutu and Sapele ports in Delta State.
“We demand immediate constitution of a substantive NDDC board instead of the present interim committee who lavishly wasted our derivation money on COVID-19 without recourse to the communities that should have the larger chunk of the accrued money to the commission, and whose interests are capitally inimical to the development of the Itsekiri Oil/Gas producing communities and the Gbaramatu kingdom.
“We eagerly await speedy action on this as the clock ticks closer to our joint ultimatum, to avert fresh crisis in the Oil and Gas Industry.”
We will like the world to know that on the 26th of January 2020, millions of dead and rotten fishes surfaced on the waterways and fish-traps in Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Itsekiri coastal communities. Till date, no Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) has been carried out, despite repeated letters written to both the Government and all relevant agencies.
Gbaramatu and the costal Itsekiri people had to engage environmentalists, who carried out analysis on samples collected, and the findings correlate, but a little higher than the report released by NOSDRA, which confirmed there was heavy metal pollution, despite their attempts to downplay its effects. These heavy metal pollutions have been linked to activities involving oil exploration in the region, our suspect we already know, according to a report by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
While expressing further disappointment in the way and manner the FG has handled their request in the past the Group said: “We are also at loss, as to why the age-long Omadino-Escravos Road, expected to connect the oil and gas rich coastal communities in Warri South and Warri South-West Local Government Areas of Delta State, as well as the Koko-Ogheye road anticipated to join Warri North and the South Western part of Nigeria, apparently remain abandoned till date, despite exploitation of huge natural resources from the area. The roads strategically have enormous infrastructural advantage to the coastal communities of the Itsekiris, Ijaws, Ilajes etc, that dwell, and as well as the IOCs operating in that axis of the Nigeria.
“Despite the hue and cry from different Itsekiri and Ijaw groups as well as professional bodies, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the relevant Federal Government MDAs such as Federal Ministry of Works, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and NDDC as well as the Multi-National Oil and Gas Companies to immediately embark on large scale shore protection/sand-filling projects in Itsekiri riverine/oil producing communities and Gbaramatu Kingdoms.”
Finally, in summation, the group noted that they are counting on this administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari that this request and demands will not be swept under the carpet but given utmost attention for peace, and the development of the region that lays the golden egg for the nation, Nigeria.
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