We want more than gunboats, Ijaw communities tell Obaseki

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State

By Jethro Ibileke

Ijaw communities in Edo State have said that they deserve more from the government of Governor Godwin Obaseki than the gunboats he procured to enhance security in the riverine areas of the State.

The Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), stated this in a statement on Sunday in Benin, by its Secretary, Western Zone, Omaghomi Olu-Derimon.

While commending Governor Obaseki for enhancing security across the State, Olu-Derimon said that the Ijaws desire infrastructural development in their communities now than they ever did.

He noted that the people would have been more pleased and elated if the funds used for the gunboats were directed to addressing the huge infrastructural deficits that is bedeviling the riverine communities.

He said this is particularly so as the first sets of gunboats procured by the government were yet to be utilised.

According to him, “It will be wrong if we say the Governor is not doing his best in terms of security as it affects the State. Even the blind can attest to the fact that security in the State has improved tremendously under the leadership of our undaunted Governor.

“Thanks to all security agencies and the Edo State Vigilante Network who are on ground in almost all communities in Edo State, including our riverine areas.

“Just recently, the government announced that it has acquired some gunboats for the riverine areas of Edo State, which is mostly occupied by the Ijaws of Edo state.

“It suffices [for] me to say that the Edo State Government bought similar boats a while ago and we are equally aware these Boats are still very new and are yet to be fully utilized, as far as we are concerned, so why buy more?

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“We have cried out severally that Ijaws are marginalised in terms of infrastructural development and political appointments and elective positions.

“It would excite you to know that Ijaws in Ovia South-West cannot access Benin City because of the deplorable state of Udo Ofunama Inikorogha road.

“The people in those communities have to travel through water to Gelegele or Sapele, Delta State before they embark on a road journey to access the State capital or their local government headquarters.

“In the same vein, the Gelegele-Ekewan Barracks Road which hitherto served as a major access route to the State capital is is now a shadow of itself.

“We have been crying for a long time that Mr. Godwin Obaseki should cover up with the infrastructural underdevelopment in the riverine areas of the State since he came on board, but the story is almost similar with that of previous administrations in the State.

“I know if the story does not change under this present government, a 100 gunboats will not be able to change the insecurity that will greet the water ways which will extent to the hinterland. I am saying this based on past experiences.

“We have over time demanded for three development centers for the three local government areas where Ijaws are domiciled. We also demanded for Edo State Riverine Development Agency and a Marine Academy in the areas.

“All these demands are to fast-track development in the communities, but none of these requests were implemented other than acquiring of gunboats that will be in use only when the Governor visits or any other VIP.

“It’s a new year and we want to urge our amiable In-law to change the narrative in our area by giving us adequate development attention,” he stated.

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