By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
A CROSS section of leaders of oil communities in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo state, have pleaded with the government to mull over viable measures to end their sufferings.
Some of the leaders spoke in an interview with the Southeast Voice exclusively, at the Ochia community in Awarra Court Area of Ohaji/Egbema. Elderly men, women, youths took their turn to express what could be best described as “hidden anger.”
They also attributed the “sorry” state of the affairs in their communities to “mischievousness of the government.”
They poured out their feelings and several questions were directed at the government for answers, which include “since creation why is it that we have not seen electricity? Why is it that the organizers of the visit of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, did not bring him to Awarra Court Area, where these militants have their camp.
“At least for him to the level of suffering and the damages done so far, as a result of militant activities.”
According to the President of the Awarra Court Area Youth Council, Comrade Macellenius Enyia, said: “Since creation Awarra Court Area, have not seen electricity.
In 2015 before the election, money was released for electrifying Ohaji/Egbema but Awarra Court Area, was not captured, especially the Ochia and Awarra.
“The Awarra Court Area, has over 11 viable crude oil wells and the largest gas deposit in Africa. We are also the food basket of Imo state. We do not understand why the government should continue to abandon us.”
Mr Nicholas Igbo, said that the level of “oppression” of the people in the oil communities by those in power was the reason they find it difficult to speak out. “The way people in government intimidate us here, our people find it difficult to talk even when they are denied their rights. Pointing out that, because of the degree of “timidity” government functionaries share whatever accrues to their family and friends.
“Please, I am begging let the rich stop intimidating the poor and taking what belongs to them,” Nicholas cried out.
According to Kennis Oparaji, “If you see the level of poverty in these communities, you will not believe that we have oil. The reason for militant activities, is simply because of the level of “inequality” caused by government officials while sharing our resources.
He was not happy that “The government will come and promise a lot of things and at the end of the day you will see nothing. The youths are not happy that they are not recognised and they are abandoned.”
In his view, Mr Chibundu Victor Nnamdi, said: “ We have seen the worst of things in these communities. I remember, when they said that houses burnt down, people abandoned their homes, my brother, they are talking of Awarra Court Area. “You need to go round and see things yourself and you will agree with me that there is no live. We are suffering and nobody is talking,” he said.
Also, a non-governmental organization, Conflict Prevent Committee Partners for Peace in the Niger Delta ,P4P, Imo State Network led by Chilos Godsent, was present in the community to train the people of Awarra court Area on sustainable peace.
They argued that infrastructure should be given priority as a way of finding a lasting peace in the area.
He said: “ An infrastructure is needed to provide the social spaces, logistical mechanisms, and institutions necessary for supporting the process of change and longterm vision of peace. A peacebuilding infrastructure is like the foundation and pillars that hold up a house.”
“Here, the foundations are people, their relationships, and the social spaces they need to support the process of transforming division and violence to increased respect and interdependence, and increased involvement in and responsibility for building peace.
“The infrastructure provides the basic support that enables people and peacebuilding processes to weather the immediate crises while patiently pursuing the slow, long-term desired change within a context of relationships.”