… East-West Road, Koko/Ogheye/Lekki Road, Eastern ports top demands
By Jimitota Onoyume, Assistant News Editor
The underdevelopment of communities in the Niger Delta region has been at the root of agitations in the zone.
Following the appointment of Chief Godswill Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN, as Minister of State, various stakeholders in different conversations with Sunday Vanguard, tasked the duo on the need to develop the zone.
A former President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, Mr Ledum Mitee, urged Akpabio and Keyamo to prioritise the completion of the East-West Road.
Let us see bulldozers on East-West Road —Ledum Mitee
He said: “Will they listen? We have been on this agitation for years. They should vigorously pursue the completion of East-West Road. In the first term of President Buhari, one kilometre was not added to the East-West Road. The former Minister of Niger Delta was busy quarrelling over the value of the road while others were busy looking for money for projects in their areas. “The East-West Road is at the centre of the agitations in the region. By now, we should have moved to the Coastal Road which was recommended by the Niger Delta Technical Committee, but sadly we are still talking of the East-West Road.
“They should also look at the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, which is not working. It is just a political patronage machine. We want to see bulldozers on the East-West Road.’’
Revisit Koko/Ogheye/Lekki Road —Itsekiri Leaders of Thought
On his part, Chairman, Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, Chief Edward Ekpoko, urged the ministers to look into the abandoned Koko/Ogheye/Lekki Road project.
It is a road designed to link the coastal areas in the Niger Delta to Lagos. He said: “The first phase tagged Koko/OgheyeRoad Project is being handled by the NDDC. The progress made so far is not satisfactory. It is moving at a very slow pace and has even been abandoned at Koko town. This road deserves attention as it will open the coastal towns in the Niger Delta and further assist in the transportation of cargoes from Koko Port when it is fully operational.
“We also urge the Ministry to liaise with the Nigerian Port Authority, NPA, and other appropriate authorities to ensure that the Warri and Koko ports are linked to the Ajaokuta/Aladja Railway Network. This will enhance the use of these ports. The Ministry is urged to liaise with NPA and other relevant government agencies to see that the Warri, Koko, Burutu, Onne, and Calabar ports are put to maximal use. Provision of water and light for rural communities in the riverine areas of the Niger Delta should be prioritised.” Also speaking, President of Ijaw Youth Council, Mr Eric Omare, said Akpabio and Keyamo are good hands with an understanding of the issues in the Niger Delta. Omare said: “I expect them to properly galvanize and coordinate the development of the Niger Delta region in the next four years of the Buhari administration. They must give priority to the completion of the East-West Road and other key projects in the region.”
NDDC needs proper supervision —Arenyaka
The Otuaje of Warri Kingdom, Chief Solomon Arenyaka urged the ministers to ensure that budgetary allocations to the ministry are released.
Expatiating, he said: “The appointment of the two sons of Niger Delta is a welcome development but it should not end as a cosmetic device to score cheap political points. The appointees should work hard to secure huge budgetary provisions backed up with commensurate releases as at when due for project execution. Reputable consultants and contractors should attract their attention. The East-West Road which is a liability from Jonathan and Orubebe should be completed. The NDDC should be properly supervised to meet the yearnings of our people.” Executive Director of Peace and Community Empowerment Initiative, PCEI, Mr Collins Newuwumi, called for the completion of abandoned projects.
Ministry should be effectively funded —-Nsirimovu
On his part, Chairman, Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition, NDCSC, Mr Anyakwee Nsirimovu, called for proper funding of the ministry. He said: “The ministry should be lifted from an appendage ministry to a frontline ministry that would attend to the enormous troubles in the region. More funds should be provided to get the job done. It must be treated as a special ministry. They should revisit the Ledum Mitee Niger Delta Technical Committee Report.”