Niger Delta youths who have taken over sections of the East-West road in protest of what they insist is the deplorable state of the road have rejected the plea of the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio that they should vacate the road to allow the contractor to commence work.
The youths are insisting that they would not stop the protest till the contractor mobilises men and materials to site, to assure them that government is serious about its promise to commence work on the critical road.
The youths had lamented that in spite of the fact the critical revenue generating concerns of the government such as the petrochemical company, the refinery, the Onne seaport, oil and gas facilities, are located in their area, they have no access road.
Ogoni youths, in a statement by Helen Sunday, Media Officer, Gborogbosi Foundation, Nigeria said that the Ogoni people have suffered enough and are demanding that the road to the nation’s economic base be constructed.
They said that their about four days old peaceful protest is to drive home the seriousness of their demand, stressing that “the continuous abandonment of the Ogoni section (Eleme junction to Onne) of the East-West road” has made the road “a death trap for motorists and pedestrians alike.”
They said that the peaceful protest, which started on July 25, 2021 is “featuring hundreds of Ogoni youths and elders” who have come out in their numbers “causing a blockade along the ever-busy East-West Road which serves as a major road for travellers within and outside the state.
“The protest is aimed at attracting the attention of the federal government against whom all prior discussions and negotiations concerning the road have yielded no positive outcome.”
The statement lamented that Ogoni people, who have served as host to oil exploration and production for decades have witnessed no positive impact in terms of development or employment, rather that “Ogoniland has been left with the worst environmental pollution in the history of global oil production.”
They also condemned what they described as the “disinterest of the federal government in the non-functional Ogoni cleanup project,” noting that “the peaceful people have no intention of disrupting the peace of the state but simply want the federal government to do that which is right.”
Insisting that the “Ogoni people deserve a better life,” they stressed that “the protest continues until contractors and equipment are mobilised to the site.”