By Egufe Yafugborhi
WARRI—ETHNIC contention for stakes in the $16 billion Odigigben Export Processing Zone, EPZ, in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, has escalated with Ijaws of Gbaramatu Kingdom asking the Delta State Government to inaugurate an EPZ Interface Committee for Ijaws affected by the project as had been done for their Itsekiri neighbours.
Addressing newsmen in Warri, the Gbaramatu Ijaws restated their demand for the re-naming of the project, adding that their patience was running out as they would resort to self help in addressing their alleged shortchanging in the project if same was not addressed by government and the supervising Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
Chief Godspower Gbenekama, who led the latest Gbaramatu outcry on the EPZ, said: “We demand two different Interface Committees for Gbaramatu Ijaws and for Ogulagha. We have our own 23-man committee to negotiate our interest. The list has since been sent to the Delta State Government and NNPC.”
Gbenekama added that NNPC should immediately open channels of discussion with the various Ijaw groups and come up with a Memorandum of Understanding with the communities before undertaking the groundbreaking for the project.
“We also demand that Julius Berger Limited henceforth carry the Ijaws along in whatever they are doing on the project. We had written several letters to them on our position, but they have so far refused to open a channel for discussion. Enough is Enough,” Gbenekama said.