By Emem Idio – Yenagoa
Hundreds of Ijaw women from oil-producing communities in Bayelsa State on Friday staged a peaceful protest against the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, over the neglect of their oil impacted communities by the Commission.
The protesting women who came mainly from the hinterland communities stormed the state liaison office of the commission located along ever-busy Melford Okilo Road brandishing placards with several inscriptions to ventilate their grievances and demands.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read, “NDDC intervene to alleviate poverty, suffering from ecological disaster,” “NDDC come to our aid, our means of livelihood is destroyed,” “we are tired of the man-made poverty in our lands,” “NDDC released funds issued by FG for devastated oil communities,” “toxic chemicals and dynamite are devastating our lands,” “NDDC come and empower our women,” among others.
The protest caused a gridlock along the Melford Okilo Expressway for over two hours while the protest lasted.
One of the leaders of the protesting women, Mrs Inekenemi Alfred from Azagbene Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area, who spoke on their behalf lamented that host communities have been abandoned while they suffer the negative effects of oil exploration and exploitation with nothing to show for the oil wealth in their domains.
She said, “The federal government will send multinationals to our communities to drill crude oil, the multinationals then pay taxes to the federal government, but the NDDC set up to develop the oil-producing communities have diverted the funds to develop non-oil-producing areas.
“In our communities, we have flow stations, oil wells and gas pipelines, but our rivers are polluted, no portable water, or good roads, no scholarship for our children, no empowerment for your women, and that is why we are here from different communities to demand our rights from NDDC.”
Addressing the protesting women, the Principal Manager, NDDC, Bayelsa Office, Mr Diete Famonyo, who commended the women for their peaceful disposition and described their demands as legitimate, said as a liaison office, they will collate their demands and forward same to the Managing Director at the Commission headquarters, adding that as a liaison office there was little or nothing they could do but to refer to headquarters.