Leaders of the Niger Delta’s on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, against what they termed the maltreatment of the region in the scheme of things by the Federal Government.
The leaders under the auspices of Presidents-General of Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities (CPG-NDEN) took their protest march to the gate of Government House at the Onopa area of the Mbiama-Yenagoa.
The placard-carrying protesters condemned the non-inclusion of the oil-producing states of the region in the N621.237bn Federal Government Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme to be carried out by the NNPC.
They also rejected the three per cent host communities fund in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), and demand more community participation in the management of the fund.
They also demanded the release of the NDDC forensic audit report more than three months after it was submitted to the Federal Government as public funds were spent on the exercise.
President of the CPG-NDEN, Professor Benjamin Okaba, who led the protest, said the people of the region producing the bulk of Nigeria’s economic mainstay “are visited with anger, hunger, frustration, disillusionment, marginalisation.”
Okaba, while presenting the group’s protest letter to the Secretary to Bayelsa State Government (SSG), Konbowei Benson, said the Federal Government had over the years made poverty the lifestyle of the people, adding that “we are at the negative end of what we produce in this nation.”
He said, “The ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta have decided today to come out for a protest march to register our displeasure over the perpetual maltreatment of our people. We have made several pleas, written petitions and read out communiques, but it’s like all of these have fallen on deaf ears.
“The iniquities of the Federal Government against the Niger Delta people are getting too much. The time has come for us to move beyond rhetoric. The time has come for us to take action and we are using this protest as a warning to the Federal Government that, enough is enough. We can’t have the blessings of God and be suffered by men.”
Okaba, who is also the President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), urged the Bayelsa governor to convey the grievances of Niger Delta leaders to President Muhammadu Buhari, saying “we are tired, we are becoming restless because we are finding it difficult to calm the peace in the region.”
Addressing the protesters, Benson commended them for conducting themselves peacefully and promised to give their message to Governor Douye Diri.
The SSG assured them that Diri would convey their complaints to Buhari and also give them feedback, stressing that “we are with you in the struggle.”