By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”THE Iduwini Cluster Development Board (CDB) weekend commissioned 18 projects estimated at N136million in six communities in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa State.
The beneficiaries were drawn from the six cluster communities of Amatu I, Amatu II, Bisangbene, Letugbene, Aghoro I and Aghoro II under a five year Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) signed between the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and the board.
A breakdown of the projects commissioned include six walkway bridges at Amatu I, eight walkway bridges at Amatu II, walkway and renovation of six classroom block at Letugbene, a walkway at Aghoro I & II.
Speaking during the commissioning of the projects, chairman of the Iduwini Cluster Development Board (CDB), Geregere Elimi commended the SPDC for the gesture, adding that the communities have never had it so good since the company started operations in the area.
His words:Â â€œNote that all SPDC host communities development initiative in the past failed because the projects were hijacked by greedy individuals within the company who connived with community contractors to short change both the company and the communities.
â€œThe product of such process was the creation of so many legacy issues that are being tackled today by the GMoU process, which leaves no room for abandoned and/or legacy projects.â€
Elimi, who explained that the GMoU process was in line with international best practice in tackling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), added that this had brought about a harvest of projects for the Iduwini Kingdom, now known as the Iduwini Cluster.
The success of the GMoU notwithstanding, he enumerated some of the challenges facing the board which, according to him, are usual teething problems associated with such new initiatives.
He commended the board mentoring NGO, Messerâ€™s Niger Delta Professionals for Development (NIPRODEV), saying the body had been most supportive to its cause.
Representatives of the beneficiary communities commended the SPDC for partnering with the board, but said more attention should be accorded the area because of its enormous contribution to the development of the state and country.
The Amanaowei of Amatu I, ancestral headquarters of the Great Iduwini Kingdom, HRH Decca Keredei, specifically charged both the state and the federal governments to invest more in the development of the area.
â€œWhat we are celebrating today without reservation is a piecemeal in comparison to what had been contributed to the nation and the state as chief host to the popular E.A and Bonga fields,â€ he said.
He called on the state government to focus more on community budgeting in the 2010 fiscal year adding, noting that â€œthis, in our thinking, is a panacea to arrest youth restiveness and agitation.â€