Disquiet in Ondo oil areas over non-inclusion on NDDC board
Traditional rulers and community leaders in the oil-producing local councils of Ese-odo and Ilaje in the coastal stretch of Ondo State have appealed to the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, nominate a representative for the state on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The appeal came on the heels of threats by youths under the banner of Ilaje Coastal Youth Alliance (ICYA) who, last week, gave a seven-day ultimatum to government to have Ondo represented on the board of the commission or face economic sabotage.
During a protest staged at the state head office of the intervention agency in Igbokoda, headquarters of Ilaje council, the youths also asked all oil firms operating in the area to relocate if government fails to meet their demand.
President of the group, Uronne Ibitoye at a press conference preceding the protest, said militants who had hitherto dropped arms, have been directed to resume hostilities in the western flank of the Niger Delta which is reputed to be the most peaceful in the restive region.
The non-inclusion of Ondo on the newly-inaugurated board was caused by the Senate’s rejection of Tokunbo Ajasin as a commissioner-nominee representing the state as a result of protests from oil-bearing communities that Ajasin, son of the state’s Second Republic governor, is not from an oil-producing community as stipulated by the NDDC constitution.
Since Ajasin’s rejection however, no action has been taken regarding finding a replacement even though unconfirmed sources said that names of some prominent persons from the oil areas have been forwarded to the Presidency for presentation to the Senate for approval.
Speaking with The Guardian on the issue, the National Vice-President of the Traditional Rulers of Oil and Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON) who is also the Alagho of Odo Nla, Oba Elias Ikuomola, said government should address the situation urgently.
According to the monarch, who is also the Secretary of the Traditional council of Ilaje Obas, the traditional institution in the state oil-producing communities are having difficulties in containing the anger of their subjects on the issue.
Oba Ikuomola appealed to the government not to take the peaceful nature of the people of the area for granted adding, “As fathers, we have been talking to our youths not to engage in economic sabotage.
“Although it is very painful seeing the loss of our communities because of our non-inclusion on the NDDC board, we are appealing to our subjects to keep calm. Developmental projects are being awarded and consultations are going on in all the states but because we don’t have a voice there, there is nothing for us. Even many on-going projects in our areas have been abandoned.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Chairman of Ese-Odo Council of Traditional Rulers who is also the Gbaluwe of Igbotu, Oba Adeniyi Ajayi, said community leaders have made representations to the state government on the issue.
The monarch lamented that residents of the two riverrine councils have been effectively sidelined because of the “unfortunate situation that is already threatening the peace in our various communities. This is unacceptable. We appeal to government to redress the situation urgently.”