By Eseoghene Emuke
A National Chairman of Association of Traditional Rulers of Oil and Gas Producing States of Nigeria (TROMPCON) and Paramount Ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom in Burutu local government area of Delta State, King Charles Ayemi- Botu has appealed to the federal government to declare a ‘state emergency’ on infrastructural development in the Niger Delta region.
The revered monarch noted that the intervention agencies including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has failed to meet the developmental yearning of the region thus the President Muhammadu Buhari should quickly declare a ‘state of emergency’ to address the lopsided development against the region.
King Ayemi-Botu stated this in separate remarks when he paid thank-you visit to some communities in Delta and Bayelsa States over their active participation in his 25th coronation anniversary and launch of his biography.
A statement issued by his media office, a copy of it made available to WARRI TODAY on Tuesday, said much was expected from the government towards fast-tracking the development of the oil-rich region which he described as the livewire of the nation’s economy.
The Monarch said urgent steps were needed to address the absence of basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, shore protection and reclamation as well as tackle the perennial flooding in the Niger Delta region, particularly in Ijaw communities to avoid looming natural disasters.
According to the Ijaw monarch, “Nature has been very benevolent to the oil bearing coastal communities which invariably is the economic live-wire of the country, from extinction as a result of age long neglect by successive governments.
“The development has exposed the communities to untold hardships such as floods, acid rains from perpetual gas flaring, water and airborne diseases, deaths through oil exploitation and exploration by insensitive multinationals whose stock-in-trade is to cart away our wealth without plunging back part of it to develop the affected communities.
“The duo of federal government and the oil majors should act with urgent dispatch to address these anomalies in order to forestall avoidable tension in the Niger Delta Region.”
On the alleged failure of NDDC and other developmental agencies in the region, he added, “It is highly regrettable and indeed a sad commentary to note that the efforts and sacrifices of traditional rulers, leaders and youths that led to the establishment of the defunct OMPADEC now NDDC, the Ministry of Niger Delta and even the Amnesty Programme as interventionist agencies, seem to be wasted as these agencies have become wishy washy and operate on a-winner-takes-all- syndrome.
“Those appointed owe allegiances to and keep trying to satisfy the inordinate desires of their godfathers in Abuja. They form cartels or syndicates with phantom companies where contracts are awarded to themselves thereby throwing the aspirations and purpose of providing succour to the oil bearing communities, to the winds.
“President Buhari should sit up and do the needful by dissolving those parastatals presently occupied by self conceited appointees.”
The Paramount Ruler who visited Ekametagbene community in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State and Ikibiri community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and Akaranbiri community in Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area also in Bayelsa State, said besides building infrastructures for the socio-economic growth of the people, there was the need to provide scholarships and employment opportunities for sons and daughters of the region.
The former TROMPCON chairman challenged leaders in Ijaw nation to stop encouraging lip service but to continue to mount pressure on government and its agencies as well as companies operating in Ijaw land to do the needful by attracting development to the areas.
The Seimbiri Monarch expressed optimism that the narratives must change from negative to positive and commended the efforts of those who had remained resolute in the struggle for true emancipation of the people.
On his 25th year coronation anniversary, King Ayemi-Botu paid glowing tributes to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State for personally attending the ceremony held at Okpokunu in Seimbiri kingdom and to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who was represented by the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori.
He commended the efforts of the two governors towards peace and development in the Niger Delta region, urging them to help sustain the drive for economic and political growth of the south south states.
King Botu also appreciated traditional rulers, religious, political and opinion leaders as well as various communities, groups and associations, for their solidarity and support during his 25th years coronation anniversary and launch of his biography, “The Lion of The Niger”.