By Olayinka Ajayi
Delta State Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mofe Pirah, has criticised Chief Ayiri Emami, the Ologbotsere of Warri, for accusing Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of neglecting the Itsekiri.
Pirah, reacting to the statements credited to Ayiri in which he labeled the Itsekiri in Okowa’s administration as being compromised by “stomach infrastructure”, yesterday; he said, “Dr Ifeanyi Okowa’s government in which I serve has not neglected or sidelined the Itsekiri people on projects”.
He said: “What school of thought is he coming from? When did he become an APC stalwart? Was the previous administration doing projects? Can he show us the projects that he drove eight years in that government to his Itsekiri enclave? Let’s be factual on sensitive issues having to do with developmental projects.
Saying he was in the previous government of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the commissioner said, “Six months to the end of that administration, there was no fund. Allocations went down making it impossible to execute projects and pay salaries. And Okowa inherited that. So the incumbent governor did two and a half years plus paying debts and clearing all the challenges inherited.
“Not long after Okowa came in that we had the demise of our king, Ogiame Atuwatse II. And Okowa ran with his two feet to meet the new Olu of Warri, went to Big Warri (Ode Itsekiri) and did over 20 internal roads so that the Itsekiri can have a befitting ancestral home for the crowning of their new king. The state is still paying for that. That’s on record, let them verify.
“Again, if you say Okowa has done nothing for Itsekiri, in Ogidigben where I come from, Okowa is doing a 2.5km road. It is ongoing. Other projects ongoing in Iwere land include the reconstruction
of Korobe Road, Koko; Ubeji Access Road; and the rehabilitation of NPA Bypass among others”.
Speaking on how the Itsekiri have benefitted in the 2018 budget of Delta State, Pirah said:
“I went to the governor personally to request that a road be constructed from Deghele, Bateren to Orere in Warri South West local government area. It is in the budget. I went again to say that in Aruton, at the mouth of Ugborodo, there is need for reclamation, shore protection and sandfeeling so that the people can have a new settlement. I have not seen a copy of the new budget. I will look at it to see whether that one is there as well.
“So, Governor Okowa, for the Itsekiri of Warri South West, has made remarkable impact. The projects in Big Warri have not been abandoned. Work is ongoing. The state allocation is beefing up. This dry season, there will be a lot of work done in this environment. So we shouldn’t be talking about why are we not getting what is due us.
“What is important for our people is to be able to make the area peaceful so that oil companies can come back, then life will come back more rewarding here. Development in our area is a three-way thing. Oil companies, communities and government. I don’t want to join issues with Chief Ayiri Emani. He knows how blunt I am. he knows who I am”.
On the maritime university site naming debacle, he said.
“What I can say is that the issues would always arise, but the best mutual approach is to sit down as neighbors, as brothers to address it. You can’t fault Supreme Court judgments, but these are people who
have been living here for ages. My advice is that both sides, the Okerenkoko and Omadino people in conjunction with the traditional councils of Gbaramatu and that of Itsekiri, let them sit down and find how to get out of the stalemate, because the Itsekiri and Ijaw people need the school. You know what DELSU did to Abraka and the other places with such development. So let’s stop the social media war and sit together to settle this distraction”.