"Sir, where are our roads? How can our loyalty to your party only be repaid with continuous hardship?"`
The people of Ndokwa/Ndoshinili communities of Delta north senatorial district of Delta state have protested against what they called "gross marginalisation" in the construction of roads and appointment of indigenes from the oil-producing area by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) since inception.
The protesters, who stormed the premises of the Delta State House of Assembly, on Thursday, led by Isaac Osakwe and Chinedu Ofulu, lamented that since the inception of civilian administration in Nigeria, they had written protest letters to every administration in Delta State on the need to construct the Asaba-Oko-Abala-Utchi-Okpai-Abalagada road, which serves the three local government areas but nothing tangible had been done.
The protesters noted that since the inception of NDDC, Delta central and south had benefitted more from appointments to the utter exclusion of Delta north.
The group said indigenes of Urhobo ethnic nationality had been NDDC board members for three times, twice as managing director and once as a member representing Delta State, adding that the Isoko had occupied the positions same number of times, Ijaw thrice while Itsekiri twice.
In the letter addressed to the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, and copied Okowa and President Muhammadu Buhari, the people stated that abandoned projects were inherited by the Delta State Government and had been appearing as "10E in the yearly budget with no administration ready to commit any money into it."
The statement read, "Apart from voting always for the PDP in every election and allowed to suffer this way, We have also been producing oil, gas and electricity that service this nation and the state since the early 60s with nothing to show for our contributions. Your administration has done much around road construction to the extent that you have graduated to doing internal streets hence you have been christened “roadmaster.”
"Sir, where are our roads? How can our loyalty to your party only be repaid with continuous hardship? Pirates on the River Niger or Igbo cartel of traders seize or buy our goods at giveaway prizes because they know we cannot paddle the goods back home. Anambra State that has no oil way back in 1976 had the foresight to create a similar road from Onitsha to Ogwu-Ikpele (opposite Okapi) on the eastern flank of the Niger for her people, which we now use to avoid pirates.
"If it took Saipem Construction Company only two weeks to bulldoze the road and make it passable from Okpai to Head Bridge to connect the IPP high tension to Obosi, why is it so difficult for the Delta State Government to construct this road that has no bridge whatsoever?. Delta North in general and Ndokwa as the only oil-producing area in the senatorial zone has not had any member in the NDDC Board, and equity demands that justice is done."
The protesters lamented that erosion had been ravaging most of their communities with the government doing nothing despite the availability of the ecological fund as well as the existence of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, (DESOPADEC) and the NDDC.
Addressing the protesters, who were received at the Assembly premises, the Speaker, Sheriff Oborewori, promised to liaise with the members representing the protesters at the National Assembly on their NDDC request, while the state will look into the roads marginalisation of the areas.