March 29, 2023

Mayor of Urhoboland condemns attacks on oil facilities, blames FG’s attitude


The Mayor of Urhoboland and notable ex-militant leader, His Excellency Eshanekpe Israel a.k.a Akpodoro has condemned the reported threats and damages done to pipelines in Urhobo and Isokolands recently, saying, such actions should be condemned by all well-meaning citizens of the country particularly Niger Deltans.

He stated this in Lagos, Wednesday, in a telephone chat with our correspondent stating that destroying national patrimony in the region shouldn’t be the best way to call for the attention of the Federal Government, arguing that aggrieved members of the public should rather than resort to violence open correspondence with the government through trusted channels of communication.

“Niger Delta,” according to the former warlord, “needs peace and development and not violent confrontation with the government.”

A group, Delta Strike Force, DSF, had reportedly claimed responsibility for damages done to a portion of Kokori pipelines at Erhaike and another one in Ozoro both in Ethiope East and Isoko North Local Government Areas of Delta State respectively, hinging their reasons on a pipeline surveillance contract of OML 30 and 34 awarded to a Senator, who just lost out of the state gubernatorial contest in the just concluded Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC organised general elections.

The militia group was alleged to have given the FG conditions for the resolution of the violence attacks to include: that the contract be withdrawn from the contractor handling the surveillance and awarded to their leaders; that the East-West Road should be fixed for the regional commuters; that gas flaring in the state be stopped immediately.

Other conditions for Peace, according to the group, include the activation of the Delta Steal Company, DSC and same be brought into the mainstream production sector of the Nigeria economy; the immediate engagement of all youths, who were involved in the war against the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA.

Akpodoro argued, “In as much as the group has good cause, violence is not a solution but a peaceful approach in a healthy engagement with the authority.”

However, the Mayor blamed the FG for what he described as its poor reward system and lackadaisical approach to the resolution of grievances by the citizens.

He noted with consternation why the government ignored several calls from notable quarters to patronise those who stuck out their necks to fight the Avengers, explaining that, during the armed conflict in 2016 led by the Avengers, ex-agitators like him were promised by the government through security Chiefs that the militants would be settled after their successes in the creeks against the Avengers.

He stressed further, “After the Avengers were defeated, efforts to make the FG to fulfill its promises failed,” adding he foresaw the current strife coming and he raised concern by calling on the government to do the needful, but regretted that his calls fell on deaf ears till date.

“Additionally,” he maintained, “The contract awarded, ordinarily, should have been given to ex-militants,” noting that the former warlords in the troubled areas should have been given “the right of first refusal,” rather than awarding it to a politically exposed persons.

“As a noble personality and peace builder in the region,” Akpodoro maintained that he had called on authorities as soon as the contract was awarded to a politician, intimating them of possible reactions as a result of the pipeline contract awarded the Senator saying, those in government rebuffed his calls, a development he said is “The tradition of the officials of Buhari’s administration.”

“I approached the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; the GCEO NNPCL; Managing Director, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC; the Chief of Defence Intelligence; DSS D.O Joseph, Urhobo traditional rulers, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sultan of Sokoko and the MD Tantita Security Services, Chief Kestin Pondi to see if they could influence the authority to right the wrongs in the award of the pipeline contract, all of that were to no avail.

“It is imperative to tell the world now that I will not intervene in the ongoing crisis as before due to the poor attitude of this government at rewarding loyalty. The present administration has no respect for the people, and it should go ahead and negotiate with them for the peace of Niger Delta.

“Residents are again at the receiving end of the actions of the government and the militia, and we shouted that the people should be considered in the actions of the government they won’t hear. Those I mentioned earlier should be held responsible if this violent confrontation persists,” the Mayor stated as he called on the FG negotiate with militia group before it gets out of hand.