By Emma Arubi
WARRIâ€”THOUSANDS of Itsekiri men, women and youths from over 23 oil producing communities in Delta State, yesterday, stormed the Warri Area office of the Niger Delta Ministry in a peaceful protest, over the non-inclusion of any of their villages in the recently advertised projects billed to be awarded soon by the Ministry.
The oil producing communities under the auspices of the Itsekiri Regional Development Council, IRDC, wondered why the Itsekiri nation, whichÂ is second only to the Ijaw nation in oil and gas production in the country and the first in Delta State, should be left out in such major project allocations for whatever reasons and accused the Minister, Elder Godsday Orubebe, of deliberately oppressing them.
In a joint statement by chairman of the IRDC, Mr. Mofe Pirah, Chairman of Itsekiri National Youth Council, Mr. David Tonwe, Dr. Wilkie Jeffery, secretary of INYC, Mr. Isaac Dorsu, President of Iwere Development Association, IDA, and 19 leaders of the various oil producing communities, they maintained that the four-day old protest, whichÂ has stalled the Federal Government multi-million naira Escravos Gas project, would continue until government is prepared to enter into a reasonable dialogue with them.
The visibly angry protesters and their leaders reiterated the many sins of the Niger Delta Ministry against the Itsekiri people and wondered why over 20 housing units approved for the people at Ode-Itsekiri by the Ufot Ekeatte administration was reversed by Orubebe,Â who directed that the housing projects be transferred to an Ijaw community.
They meanwhile appealed to Mr. President to direct the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to advertise projects meant for the Itsekiri immediately. They also want the President to direct Elder Orubebe to order the contractors handling the Itsekiri housing units to move back to site.
IRDC also demanded that the Ministry should henceforth outlined the projects awarded based on ethnicity as a matter of policy to reduce suspicions, just as they appealed to the President to direct the immediate commencement of construction work of theÂ Navy Forward Operation Base, FOB, at Madangho to show some semblance of federal presence in Itsekiri land.
It willd be recalled that the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs last Wednesday, advertised list of projects ready to be awarded in various communities in its mandate areas.