By Peace Joshua and Benedicta Obosherinor, Warri
The London-based Itsekiri Congress UK (ICUK) and Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) have suggested to the Federal Government to utilise the recovered 4.2m pounds returned by the British Government solely for development of federal projects in Delta State.
While Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) maintained that the recovered funds be spent on Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) Effurun and the take-off of the proposed Federal Polytechnic, Orogun, both in Urhoboland, the Itsekiri Congress UK (ICUK) said the money be utilised on meaningful and life transforming projects in the state.
President, Barrister Dede Ukuti and Public Relations Officer, Mr. Sheyi Mackson Ejejigbe of ICUK said in a statement yesterday that though it was against the recovered funds being returned to the coffers of the Delta State Government, which had at that time denied that its funds were looted, it however, opposed plans by the Federal Government to expend the recovered funds to develop projects outside the state.
It argued that there are several Federal Government’s abandoned projects in Delta State that the recovered funds can be used to resuscitate.
“In a Federation like Nigeria, using the funds of one of the Federating states to develop projects in another state without the consent of the state involved is not only unfair but illegal and it totally negates the very essence of Nigeria as a federation. The recovered fund belongs to Delta State and, therefore, should be invested in projects in Delta State”, it stated.
The Itsekiri group noted that since the memorandum of undertaking signed with the British Government is for the funds to be released only to the Federal Government, it will, however, propose that such funds should then be used solely for developmental projects in Delta State under the supervision of the Federal Government.
“It will be foolhardy if such fund is handed back to a state government which claimed at the time that its funds were not missing.”
The group flayed a situation which it described as day- light robbery of justice and promotion of oppressive tendencies if the recovered funds from Delta State were used to develop other states of the country to the detriment of Deltans whom it alleged had been deprived of good governance since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999 till date.
“We believe the people from oil and gas producing communities deserve the best and they must be compensated with meaningful and life transforming projects. The Niger-Delta region and Deltans have been marginalised for ages, it will only make sense for resources recovered from the region to be used to execute projects in the region and state to avoid another round of agitations and maintain the relative peace currently enjoyed in the region which has led to the high production quantum of oil and gas in the region.
“We look forward to a country devoid of corrupt practices where justice, peace, transparency and reward for hardwork take prominence over personal aggrandisement of wealth”, it stated
On it part, the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide in a statement also appealed to the Federal Government to use the soon-to-be-repatriated Delta State money to fund the take-off of the newly established Federal Polytechnic, Orogun, Ughelli North Local Government Area as well as Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state.
UPU, the apex socio-cultural umbrella body of Urhobo people, said it will amount to grave injustice for the Federal Government to use the said money to fund projects outside Delta where the money was looted.
According to the statement, it faulted the choice of projects the federal government had chosen to expend the money on.
Recall that the federal government, through the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had disclosed that the money being repatriated from the United Kingdom will be used for the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road and Lagos-Ibadan Express Road.
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