By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITYâ€”YOUTHS from oil rich Orhionmwon local government council of Edo State have vowed to blow up oil installations in the area, if the N3.3 billion Oben/Umoghun-Nokhua/Orogho road contract which was awarded two years ago by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, was not completed.
The youths, who stormed the NDDC office in Benin City yesterday to protest what they described as alleged neglect of the area by the commission, lamented that the contract was abandoned due to the fact that it was awarded to a foreign contractor, with the connivance of some politicians in the area after an indigenous contractor won the bid for the job.
The angry youths vowed not to allow any foreign contractors in their area, arguing that the people of the area would have been able to hold the contractor liable for the abandonment if the contract was awarded to an indigenous contractor.
They urged the NDDC to award the contract to an indigenous contractor inÂ the interest of peace in the area.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the protesting youths, Esosa Ogbeifo, regretted that politicians in the area had taken the people for granted for too long, adding that â€œthey should not take our calmness to be cowardice because if that road, which will bring development to about six communities is not done, we may decide to take up arms and shut down oil installations in our domain.â€
In a letter addressed to the Managing Director of the NDDC by youth associations in the area, under the aegis of Orhionmwon Youth Assemblies, the group recalled that the Benin Monarch and other royal fathers had written series of letters to the commission which were ignored.
â€œBut we have resolved that justiceÂ must be done. We, therefore, say sir that unless the above road construction is awarded to an indigenous contractor as recommended, we shall be constrained to use all means to vehemently resist any kind of imposition of non-indigenous contractor on us,â€ the group stated.
Reacting to the issues raised by the protesters, State Coordinator of the Commission, Patrick Ighodala, said it was the Bureau of Public Procurement t(BPP) hat had the power to give or approve contracts.
He added that his office was only told that the contract had been awarded, but that nobody had been introduced to him as the contractor.