Bayelsa Elders Write Jonathan On Brewing Tension Over Govt’s Neglect Of The Area

oil spill in Nembe community
oil spill in Nembe community

After years of complaining about marginalisation, the people of South-South Nigeria finally got representation at the biggest political seat in Nigeria in President Goodluck Jonathan, but the people of the oil producing areas of Bayelsa State have said they are still being neglected by the federal government.

In a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan protesting alleged continued neglect of their area by the federal government, elders of Nembe community raised the alarm on the rising anger and impatience of the people especially the youths against multinational oil companies operating in the area.

The elders in the letter signed by Emeritus Professor E. J. Alagoa, Professor Youpele Beredugo, Alabo Jikekuma Ombu-Kieri, Sir C.T Ikelemote, Dr. Young Dede, Ms. Ruby Iwoyefa Nyananyo, Chief Nengi James and Chief Howells Aburuku, among others, declared that in spite of over 50-years of old oil exploration and 10-year per cent of nation’s oil and 15 per gas production, the federal government had failed to deliver on road construction promised the Nembe communities 40 years ago.

The position of the elders which was read at the weekend during the 10-year anniversary celebration of the Nembe Se Congress by the Bayelsa Commission for Environment, Mr. Inuruo Wills, argued that the relationship between Nembe territory and the country had been one sided as the territory had only been good for economic exploration, extraction of resources and an export terminal for extracted resources.

The angry elders and respectable academics in the letter warned against the rising anger and impatience with Oil multinational companies operating in the area and the federal government over alleged deceit on the construction and completion of four major road projects in the area including the 66 years old Yenegwe-Kolo-Nembe-Brass road project.

The Nembe elders noted with concern that Nigeria is infamous for its callous neglect of the Niger Delta region particularly the Nembe territory which is the most tragic example of that neglect. “The starkest metaphor for this age-long neglect is that along the Akassa kin, Obioku through the Okoroma sector to the towns of Nembe and into Okoroba, Oluasiri and Mini-Ikensi sectors remain till today unconnected by road to the hinterland,” the statement said.

They listed among the proposed and abandoned road projects in Nembe communities to include Yenegwe-Kolo-Nembe-Brass road by the federal government since 1973; the Otuegila-Amurekeni-Amutoro-Emago/Kugbo-Oluasiri-Okoroba-Biokponga-Nembe road by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC); the Akpilai/Ogbia-Nembe road proposed by the first civilian government in Bayelsa State and the 22 kilometre-Ogbia, Nembe road by the state government.

“Aside from the commitment handed by the present administration to get the SPDC, NDDC and the contractor-Setraco limited-to complete the road within the rescheduled deadline of the end of 2014 or early 2015, none other has been delivered. The federal government, SPDC and the past administrations of the state have failed in their road promises.

“What is the fate of these road projects? How do we get our various stakeholders to keep faith with their legal and social obligations to Nembe? Has SPDC tricked us and finally abandoned the Otuegila-Emago-Oluasiri-Nembe road? Is the Ogbia-Nembe road the only serious project NDDC intends to do for the entire Nembe communities with quota that we contribute to the commission which is roughly N300billion yearly budget? Will the federal government prove to us through concrete infrastructural evidence that it now cares about the people and territory of Nembe?

“Whilst it takes the federal government the better part of the century to connect us by road, there exists a vast and expanding network of oil and gas pipelines across our territory connecting prolific oil wells to flow stations to export terminals and so on. In some 40 to 50 years of oil and gas production, the Nigerian government has in league with the oil companies virtually drilled the life out of our communities,” the forum stated.

“Our rivers as well as groundwater have been massively poisoned through the worst case of cumulative oil pollution in the world. Gas is continually flared at several points like some oversized Olympic touches at the expense of the people’s lungs,” the elders said.


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