A Niger Delta ex-agitator, Mr Reuben Wilson, on Monday, March 1, 2021 blamed political leaders and public office holders from the zone at all levels for the underdevelopment of the region.
Wilson, who is also National President of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI), regretted that despite the huge sums of money accruing to the region for the past two decades, the zone remained neglected.
Reuben, who expressed this opinion in an interview in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, accused leaders and representatives from the region of high level conspiracy to deliberately impoverish the zone for selfish reasons.
According to him, it is painful that funds meant to develop the region were siphoned and diverted to private use just to exhibit affluent lifestyle at the detriment of the people who elected them.
He lamented the situation where contracts for the development of the area were awarded and monies paid without any visisible projects on ground, adding that the people of the region are frustrated by the gross underdevelopment.
“The state and federal governments should do something about developing the area. We were agitating so that roads can get to our communities, but nothing has been done.
“We need roads in the Niger Delta, but rather people are busy diverting and misappropriating funds meant to develop this region.
“That is the money people have been sharing in NDDC. People will get a contract and will not execute such contracts yet full payment will be made to them.
“My advice would rather go to the government at the centre, our ministers and leaders in the Niger Delta that they should try to bring development to the region and that is what the people need for now.
“Government should come down to our communities to see how the area can be developed.
“Look at my community, Koluama in Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa now, there was an oil spill recently and no company has taken responsibility.
“The people’s livelihood has been affected and the people can no longer fish; also the government has not done anything to impress on the company to clean up the spill.
“There was this Chevron North Apoi Gas Rig explosion in Koluama on January 16, 2012, when Dr Goodluck Jonathan was President and until now nothing has been done to bring succour to the people and the affected communities.
“Imagine the environmental effect of that Rig explosion on humans yet neither the oil company that owned the Rig nor the government did anything to ameliorate the impact of the explosion.
“I can recall that Dr Goodluck directed that Mr Kingsley Kuku, the then Amnesty boss, to include the communities impacted by the Koluama gas explosion into the amnesty programme.
“But the present amnesty boss has refused to pay them their stipends and allowances, some of them are in their final year, others are in their third year.
“It is not a bad idea to bring in more youths into the programme but he should first of all pay those that have already been captured before thinking of implementing another 30 per cent for impacted communities,” he said.
Wilson, who is a leader of the ex-agitators in the Niger Delta, advised that to curb youth restiveness the oil companies should as a policy employ at least 20 youths from each community.
“It is a very sad situation in terms of employment of our youths by oil multinational companies.
“What we have in the region is oil companies bringing people from outside to take the jobs that are supposed to be for the youths. Our leaders at the front level should also try and provide jobs for the youths.
“The youths in our region need to be empowered and developed in terms of their capacity.
“Everybody in the Niger Delta needs development. The people are suffering and our leaders are turning blind eye to their plight and are expecting support during elections.” Wilson said.
He also noted that the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, retired Col. Milland Dikio, should have used the unspent N26 billion he reportedly returned to address the enourmous challenges before the programme.
By Nathan Nwakamma