Despite release of N2.5b for East-West road, protesters worship on site
Despite Federal Government’s release of N2.5 billion for compensation for the construction of the Eleme-Onne axis of the East-West Road, Ogoni youths, yesterday, protested at the site of the construction.
Addressing the protesting youths at the blocked site, representative of Rivers South East Senatorial District, Barri Mpigi, acknowledged the release of the fund, stating however, that the Niger Delta people would vacate the road, but would return, if the government reneged on mobilising the contractor as promised.
The Guardian recalled that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who disclosed the release of the fund last week, had appealed to the protesting youths to vacate the section of the East–West road to enable contractors to commence work.
The youths were, however, not deterred by Akpabio’s promise, as they remained on the protest site until yesterday, when lawmakers from the region addressed them at the site.
Speaking, Mpigi commended the youths for conducting themselves maturely, saying: “We are proud of our youths, this is the seventh day of the protest and nobody has complained of molestation or robbery.
“We thank the youths for being focused in their demands and resisting all forms of provocation and distractions.” He lamented that they had to go that far to attract Federal Government’s attention to their plight, stating that government should live up to its responsibilities and not wait to be compelled by protest actions before it works.
Also speaking, Olaka Wogu, noted that the Federal Government had promised that the road would have six lanes and several flyovers, but vowed that the worst may happen if government failed to mobilise contractors to site today.
“They promised us that the road will be the best, we will not be taken in by their promises, but rather be vigilant. If by this time tomorrow, we cannot confirm mobilisation, we may be forced to continue the protests,” he stated.
Others who spoke at the event including former Secretary to Rivers State Government (SSG), Kenneth Kobani, federal and state Houses of Assembly members, Kingsley Chinda among others, condemned Akpabio for his nonchalance and neglect of the region until the youths started protesting.