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Groups, riverine residents spoil for showdown with Okowa over bridge

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By Emma Amaize

BURUTU— A coalition of six civil society groups, CSOs and riverine dwellers in Delta State, last week, served Governor Ifeanyi Okowa a notice of their plan to protest against him today (Tuesday) over alleged abandonment of Ayokoromo-Egbo-Ede Bridge project in Burutu Local Government Area by him.

The right groups are Ayakoromo Activists Forum, Ijaw People Development Initiative, Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, Concerned Ijaw Transformation Ambassadors, Committee for Rural Development Movement and Concerned Ayakoromo Citizens.

In a letter dated May 22 to the governor, signed by Austin Ozobo and three others, they said: “In pursuance of the above, we, the coalition of concerned Civil Society Groups in collaboration with the beleaguered riverine communities have decided to register our grievances to the world in peaceful protest at the project site at Ayakoromo town in Burutu local government area on the 30th of May, 2017.”

Neglected Ayakoromo-Egbo-Ede Bridge project

Siege to Govt House

“Our next protest after this incoming one will be held at Government House gate, Asaba after which we shall mobilize all the affected communities to be at daggers-drawn with you against 2019. As law abiding citizens with oriented policies of non-violence approach, our peaceful demonstration will be conducted in most conducive manner.”

Part of the letter read: “We wish to draw your attention to the above subject matter and to further inform you of our intention to embark on a peaceful protest in accordance with the laws of the land.

Our resolve to embark on such peaceful protest is premised on the fact that your government has seemingly abandoned the Ayakoromo/Egbo-Ide bridge project in Burutu local government area, awarded by your predecessor.”

Our shock, disbelief

The calition said: “We are aware of the fact that you promised Burutu people during your electioneering campaign in 2015 that your government will take the project as one of its priority projects and ensure speedy completion. We are surprised after two years of stewardship; you have vehemently refused to give the project a deserving priority attention.

“Our suspicion crystallized when you deliberately omitted the project from the state’s budgets in two consecutive years notwithstanding the series of appeals from the various community leaders to your government.”

Peace of the cemetery

The coalition further asserted: “Having appraised your graveyard silence to the bridge project and your attendant dilly-dally responses to the pleas of the concerned riverine dwellers and barrage of media publications by coalition of civil society groups on the same subject matter, we have come to a verified conclusion that the Ayakoromo/Egbo-Ede bridge project is a foregone issue in your government.

“Perhaps, the best political gift you have decided to give to the people after they gave you 90 percent of their votes.”

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