The Acting President, Yemi Osinbanjo on Monday at the stakeholders meeting of oil producing communities in Benin, Edo state, said that the elites in the Niger Delta have over the years deprived the people the opportunity to enjoy the benefit of oil in their communities.
He vowed that the federal government will henceforth, deal directly with the communities and not the elites. He ordered all contractors handling projects that have been abandoned to go back to site, warning that any contractor who has collected money for a project and abandon same will be sent to jail.
However, following an incoming call from President Muhammadu Bahuari, the Acting President suspended the programme for three minutes and rushed out to pick the President’s call.
The programme was well attended and attracted representatives from the oil producing communities. It became chaotic for about 10 minutes when youths of Ijaw communities in Edo state led by ex-militant leader, Henry Binidodogha allias Egbema 1, stormed the venue to express their disappointment over the inability of the Acting President to personally visit the communities, rather than “calling us to come and sit in this hall discussing what we don’t understand.” He said:
“We heard you said you cannot come because of lack of security, so we came to tell you that you should now leave our oil for us and go back, we are tired, our people are suffering and it is not a problem a town hall meeting will solve.”
It took the intervention of the Edo Deputy Governor, Shaibu and security agents to douse the tension in the hall. Obaseki, who spoke shortly after the incident, acknowledged the plight of the oil producing communities in the state and appealed to the federal government to look into the reports of the previous committees so as to find lasting solution to the problem of the Niger Delta people.
The Acting President said majority of the oil producing communities have suffered, adding that the story of devastation is everywhere.
“I can tell you precisely how much has been voted to several communities and there is no sign of development in those areas. I can tell you how many of these projects are supposed to have been completed but when you look at the books they said they have been completed. They have not even been done, many have not even been started at all. This is the story not just in the oil producing communities but here in Edo state and everywhere.
“It is a story of many years of corruption that has deprived our people especially people from the oil producing communities of their means of livelihood. That is one of the issues that we intend to address. We want to impose a new way of doing things, a new era for oil producing communities in Nigeria. This is an important engagement, it is not an engagement that we are taking likely at all. The reason why we have spent the few days going from community to community, state to state is because this is a serious engagement.”