By Dele Sobowale
THE ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, On October 6, 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday for Jews, during which the religion forbids them to bear arms, Egypt attacked Israel and for a while the Arab country was winning. But, soon the holy days were over and the Israelis handed the Arab countries their third defeat since 1948.
Humiliated the oil producing countries of the Middle East began an oil embargo on the Western countries—especially America—which was perceived as being responsible for their loss. Within weeks the global price of crude oil, which had remained stable at $3 per barrel, shot up to $12. From that time till now, crude oil prices had been escalating creating billionaires everywhere in the world – including Nigeria.
At its peak, the price of crude oil even reached up to $140 per barrel. But for the people of Abigborodo, a community floating on oil and gas, time stood still. There is no single evidence of Federal or State government presence in the community. For all they received in return for the oil taken from their land the Federal government might as well been giving the oil away for nothing –which was all they got.
Fortunately, change is coming. A road and bridge, as well as several culverts, are being built through absolute mangrove forest and marshland to link the people of these communities, forgotten by all, to the rest of the world. A ring rod is under construction; Alma College is rapidly developing to be one of the finest secondary schools in Nigeria complete with good teachers; solar power has made Problem Has Changed Name (PHCN) and its Minister totally dispensable; water will soon flow; internet connection is shaping up and modern houses are springing up. It is too little but, one hopes not too late. The State Government has done everything.
It will be interesting to know which of several Federal Ministries – Health, Education, Women’s Affairs, Youth and Sports, Power, Niger Delta, Water Resources, Agriculture or the NDDC – all feeding fat on its oil — will be the first to visit Abigborodo and acknowledge that there are Nigerians living there to whom they owe duties which have not been discharged.
There can be no dispute that if the governor of Delta State had not come from there. The roads or other structures would never have been built. It is also a testimony to the guts of the present governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, that he seized the opportunity to re-dress over half a century of injustice from which his people had suffered.
When the road is completed, a very expensive project because mountains of sand have to be piled on the road-bed before asphalt is applied and drainage systems will have to be created ad well, travel between Sapele and Abigborodo, which now takes over twenty minutes on water will be completed in less than three minutes. More importantly, it will open a lot of communities to the world and for further development.
My only prayer is that the next governor of Delta State will come from one of the minority ethnic groups – Ika, Isoko, Anioma, Ijaw etc – in order for the next major investment to take place in that area. If it must be ‘turn-by-turn” then let’s be honest about it. That is the lesson I came away with on this trip.
NEXT: From Abigborodo to Nnewi: Spreading the Gospel of investment.
CARELESS TALK FROM THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
“The right to talk does not include the right to be taken seriously”. Hubert Humphrey, US Vice-President under President Johnson.
GOVERNOR AMECHI (PDP) of Rivers State reportedly said that if the nation fails the media must be held responsible. I hope he was misquoted. I deliberately reminded our readers that the governor belongs to the PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED.
More than Boko Haram, the PDP is the number one plague Nigeria suffers today; for the simple reason that it is omnipresent in Nigeria bringing corruption in its trail. Its president had just announced to the whole world that he doesn’t “give a damn” about probity even if Channels and the media talk about it all day “from HEAVEN”.
That’s understandable; those who visit HELL on fellow Nigerians cannot listen to voices from holy places.