BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
Mr Mathew Itsekure was spokesman of Itsekiri National Youth Council, INYC, during the crisis era between Itsekiri and Ija that almost crippled the economy of the oil rich Warri about twenty years ago
In this interview with the Vanguard , Itsekiri throws his weight behind agitation by Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo nations in Delta state for fair deal over the bidding for 57 marginal fields in several communities in the Niger Delta , advising that the federal government should not allow the situation degenerate to the state where oil operations would be shut down by communities.
MY name is Sir Mathew Itsekure one time Spokes person Itsekiri National Youth Council, INYC. We have been in the forefront of agitation for a better Itsekiri nation. You will recall that about twenty years ago we went into the trenches, a sad story to tell no doubt and ended up on the drawing table with all sides negotiating a peace deal. That is the peace we are enjoying today in Warri.
We, stakeholders for peace can only urge the government to help play its part by not allowing tension in the oil rich communities of Warri
I want to add my voice to the numerous voices calling for the halting of the current 57 marginal field bidding process,
We believe that we have been shortchanged for so long. We thought when this government came on the wings of change that a whole lot will change including where recognition is given to the goods that lay the golden eggs. Five years of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, nothing has changed, it has been the same story of marginalization.
We had cocoa regime, ground nut regime, it is no longer news that the development we saw in the west, including being the first area to enjoy television in Africa were all from the cocoa. It will be fairness if we too should benefit from our oil.
The AKK pipeline 645 , ( Abuja, Kaduna, Kano pipeline ) is to convey gas through the 40 inch pipeline under construction now that is meant to go through the northern part of the country through Morocco down to Europe, this is another rape on the fortunes of the Niger delta.
During the last days of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, we witnessed the ground breaking of the Gas Revolution Industrial Park project , GRIP, the deep sea port all in Warri south west local government area. They would have turned the entire region round in terms of development but for political reasons the projects were stalled. I thought the new government that came would have revisited the projects within the first year of the administration because of the gains to the country.
But as we speak, nothing is being said about the project, it is like it has been forgotten. I am not aware they have explored oil field in the north with rich deposit of oil or gas. We know they are trying to do exploration which they have not been able to do So the gas for the AKK project will come from the Niger Delta . what stops the government from completing the Gas Revolution Industrial park and the deep sea port projects in Delta state before starting a similar one in the north. Things like this are enough to provoke the people.
When you hear of the mind bugging sum they spent on the project , all from proceeds of oil from the region and we in the region wake up to see darkness , we cant be happy
What should government do with the protests so far from the ethnic groups ?
I think the federal government should as a responsible government assuage the feelings of the people by listening to their yearnings and aspirations. It is not about intimidating the people with security agencies.
The continued intimidation of the people will produce crisis. This is not the first time the Niger Deltans are agitating over under development
So what is on going right now is not out of place I support it that government must give due attention to the agitations of the people .
There were threats to shut down exploration activities in oil communities in the state if government failed to listen, what is your take on this ?
If that is what will enable government to listen , may be by the time government source of income is tampered with may be it will bring some change. But I think a reasonable government should not allow it get to the level
Government is about development, a civilized government should listen to the people. It is not about intimidating the people to submission government should not let it get to halting of operations I will never support destruction.
But there have been interventionists agencies for development of the region
We are aware of some interventions in time past, but I call them elitist interventions. Like Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is one of the elitist interventions. That is why people get contracts from the commission, abandon them . I do not see how development in the Niger delta region has anything to do with lassa fever , see what they spent on this and Covid 19, you can hardly find the meeting point for development of the region from the expenditure . This is why I say the interventionists agencies no longer serve the interest of the region.
What is going on in the NDDC now is class struggle among the elites who can outwit the other.
lets hear you on the altercation between the former Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Joy Nunieh and the Minister of Niger Delta, Chief Godswill Akpabio
As I said earlier the interventionist agencies set up were for the elites from what we are seining so far. it is only the elites playing magic so far with the NDDC for instance as we can see . If you hear of the amount of money that have been going to commission you wonder what they have been used for .
So you see that the altercation between the two was another manifestation of the class crisis. It is good it is happening now. If what we hear is anything to go by it is sad , allegations coming out are disturbing . The former IMC MD has said she will go any length to prove her allegations so who has been alleged against should go to court to clear his or her name until that is done many may believe that all that have been said is true