Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Tension is gradually building up in Delta State as the Ijaw and Itsekiri people get ready to cripple the economy of the country in protest against the alleged continued marginalisation and underdevelopment of the oil and gas producing communities, five years into President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
The two major ethnic groups at a world press conference last Sunday threatened to resume hostilities any moment from now over unfulfilled promises by the present administration.
They alleged that the federal government, since assuming office, has not executed any meaningful project that would improve the lives of their people or created any economic opportunities for their people.
The ethnic groups in a joint communique warned that unless visible concrete steps are taken by the federal government, they might be forced to cripple the operations of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to press home their demands.
The communique was signed by Chief Godspower Gbenekama for Gbaramatu traditional council where ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo, hails from, and Chief Mike Odeli for the Movement for Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities.
Parts of the demands, according to them, are that 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 of Delta State.
They called on the federal government to immediately halt the current process of bids for the 57 marginal fields by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to create opportunities for indigenes of the oil producing communities.
The Ijaw and Itsekiri people further demanded the facilitation of the abandoned age-long Omadino-Escravos road and Koko-Ogbeye road projects which they said had become a mere campaign rhetoric by successive administrations.
They also demanded an urgent and immediate relocation of the Floating Dock/Ship building yard abandoned at navy yard in Lagos to Gbaramatu kingdom to enhance capacity building for students of Maritime University in Okerenkoko as envisaged.
The angry Ijaw and Itsekiri people wondered why the federal government embarked on the 614km long Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) natural gas pipeline to convey gas to the North, Morocco and United Kingdom at the expense of Gas Revolution Industrial Park project that will benefit the country.
“This is what we termed sheer insensitivity by a government that displays ill-attitude towards developing other regions, especially the ones that lay the golden eggs like ours. It beats our imagination as to how a government that claimed to practice and encourage local production suddenly deviates from its agenda. Rather than encourage local industrialisation through project such as GRIP, it opted to sustain the continued exportation of our natural gas without adding value to them,” they said.
They recalled that the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited the oil and gas producing communities about four years ago, and made some promises that would develop the area, but wondered what happened that no single project has been executed in the area.
Therefore, they threatened to cripple all oil operations in their communities, as well as cripple the economy should the federal government fails to heed their demands, adding: “Enough is enough, we are tired of fail promises.”