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NNPC Federal Road Projects Allocation: A Metaphor Of Social Exclusion!

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A few months ago, the Urhobo Progress Union made strong representations to the Federal Government and the British High Commission on the injustice inherent in using recovered Delta State funds to construct Federal roads outside Delta State, when there are numerous Federal roads and projects neglected and abandoned in Delta State but little did the UPU know that such injustice has become a national norm until the Federal Government recently published a list of roads to be constructed across the country lieu for offsetting NNPC’s tax indebtedness to the Federal Government.
The asymmetrical and lopsided nature of the distribution of the roads and its gross incongruity with the Federal government explanatory justification for the roads, namely to enable the distribution of Petroleum products beggars belief.

If petroleum products are to be efficiently or effectively distributed, whether they are produced locally or imported, they must first come out from the Coastal areas. Situating this fact with the primary interest of Urhobos and Deltans, it is the most logical expectation that for the Federal explanation to be congruent with reality, it must first ensure that such petroleum products can easily come out of the coastal areas where NNPC produces petroleum products or evacuates imported products directly or through marketers from tank farms.

The majority of such locations are in Coastal areas with the most dilapidated roads in Nigeria. Between NNPC Warri in Delta State particularly outskirt of entrance from Delta to and out of Benin-City in Edo State through which large volumes of products are taken to Northern states, travelling by the only Federal road accessible that has become worse than a nightmare. Only a very few if any coastal State in the Niger-Delta areas are spared such distressing experiences. Yet plans to ease petroleum products distribution did not include the areas (Warri and Edo) from where such journeys must commence with the most number of deplorable roads whereas Northern areas where the products may end up are allocated an astonishing (2,037.05kms) of roads to be fixed viz:
(a) North Central (1,480.2km) (b) North East (273.35km) and (c) North West (283.5km) .

But in contrast, South South was unjustly and unfairly allocated a provocative mere (52.22km) . That is the least in the whole allocation and same to South East and South West areas down south compared to Northern geopolitical zones . This is the kind of crass insensitivity that is fueling the wave of agitations and calls for self determination across the country given that everyone knows that the resources from NNPC’S activities emanate predominantly from the same coastal areas that are being inequitably shortchanged of much needed road repairs that everyone, including the NNPC sorely needs to effectively operate.

When global authorities strongly accepted the use of human development indices as a strong dimension for measuring human progress and consequently development, the primary motivation was provided by the unimpeachable proof provided by the erudite economist, Armyta Sen that social discrimination rooted in social exclusion and the propagation of social inequalities in societies deepens poverty, underdevelopment and social strife which are all bad for peace and national development.

This kind of unfair and illogical decision making on the part of the NNPC or the Federal Government both of which are held accountable on this issue by the UPU led to the ruining of the productivity of the NNPC which has a refinery in Delta State and oil and gas production and distribution facilities within Delta and Edo states and several other coastal states. How can anyone explain coherently the 7 km to 1km distribution of roads to be fixed in the Northern States where Petroleum cannot get to if they cannot be effectively evacuated from dilapidated coastal roads?

The UPU will not begrudge the NNPC nor the Federal Government if the funds were not directly from Petroleum activities of the NNPC which yielded the Federal Government such debts. Indeed, basic Corporate Social Responsibility dictates that areas from where resources yield significant rewards to corporate entities should be prioritized in showing gratitude by such entities. But from the disproportionate allocations which favours areas where NNPC activities are minimal to insignificant, while tokenism is given to areas of major activities even at the detriment of the logistical efficiency of NNPC itself is so shocking that there are no adequate words by UPU to express this level of insensitivity. Public governance demands of public servants only three standards of ethics, to do justice, to do no harm and to be equitable. None of these three ethical standards were met by the grossly provocative allocations for roads to be fixed by NNPC. Its a shame!

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The endurance of one injustice after another is all that the Urhobo people in particular and the Southern people in general perceive from this action. The Urhobos, the South and its coastal dwellers including all who are joint recipients of this unjust allocative injustice, who derive their economic benefits therein and are thereby deprived from the neglect are justified in their umbrage for such injustice.

If the Urhobos must bear the Federal Government and the NNPC no ill-will, if the Southern and Coastal people will not be incensed and provoked by this inequity, the Federal Government and the NNPC should redress this distributive injustice that defies the logic which motivates it, if the activities of NNPC are to be better enabled by good roads, the roads nearest and around its principal work facilities and the people should not be treated so shabbily with gross insensitivity. This act of social exclusion is becoming a constant and undesirable hallmark of governance under the current regime, those who seek one Nigeria should not perpetuate injustice. As long as situations like this persist despite public outcry for fairness, the fingers of providence will continue to write on the walls of Nigeria as unjust nation.

Chief Joe Omene
President-General

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