The Federal Government is set to prosecute contractors who abandon projects in the Niger Delta, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday.
Prof. Osinbajo spoke at a town hall meeting in Benin City, the Edo State capital, as part of his fact-finding visits to the Niger Delta states.
The meeting was almost marred by a protest by some members of oil producing communities who insisted that the Acting President should abort it.
Some Ijaw youths, led by ex-militant Henry Binidodogha, also temporarily disrupted the meeting for not being allowed to talk.
A representative of the oil-producing communities, Don Ben, grabbed the microphone and told the acting president to leave their oil alone if the communities were too insecure to be visited.
Ben said they had been at the Benin Airport waiting for the arrival of the acting president only for them to be told that the visit to the communities had been cancelled.
Binidodogha said peace had reigned in the state because of Minister of State for Petroleum Dr. Ibe Kachikwu’s intervention.
He said the Ijaw were being neglected in the state and that it was difficult for an Ijaw to win a council election.
Prof. Osinbajo promised to reschedule the visit to the oil producing communities.
He said the planned closure of the Abuja International Airport disrupted his visit to the state.
The Acting President informed the gathering that the new vision for Niger Delta would define a bright future for the communities.
He said the government would prosecute contractors who abandon projects.
Prof. Osibanjo said the Buhari administration wanted to ensure that the people got the benefit of the country’s wealth.
He said: “Our plan is to visit all the oil communities in Edo State but what happened is that the Abuja airport would be closed down tomorow and we would not have enough time to visit all the communities. The governor and I have agreed that I would pay a visit another time so that we can visit all the communities.
“The majority of people of the oil communities and many parts of our country have been held for so long without benefiting from the wealth of the oil. I can tell you how much have been voted or spent for projects in several communities and there is no sign of development there.
“Many of these projects that are supposed to be completed are in the book but many have not even started all. It is a story of neglect and corruption depriving people especially the oil communities of their means of livelihood for many years.
“We are committed to every thing that we said we will do. It doesn’t make sense for leadership to ignore the plight of the people especially the oil communities which is the source of the wealth of the nation. The elite in Nigeria not just in oil producing communities, had very frequently deprived the people the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of the land. That is the Nigeria story.
“The elites have not generally allowed the man on the street to enjoy the fruit of the land. If you look at the number of contracts and the money spent on paper in this country, it is enough to develop the country but this money has corruptly been taken away and it is our duty to speak against it.”
Governor Godwin Obaseki said his administration had planned to develop a master plan for the 38 oil producing communities in the state.
Obaseki said he would not allow any agency to carry out any project without adhering to details in the master plan.