A Niger Delta activist and a community leader in Gbaramatu kingdom, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, has accused the Delta state government of playing politics with the recent spate of bombings of oil facilities by the Niger Delta Avengers.
Sheriff, during an investigation into the crisis, said Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the state was playing politics with the people because of security votes and expected revenue from the federation account.
He described the dialogue between the state government and stakeholders towards restoring peace in the state and in the Niger Delta region as a political jamboree.
The Niger Delta activist also accused Okowa’s administration of neglecting the core oil-producing areas, pointing out that in the recent commissioning of projects in the upland part of the state to mark his one year of governance, none were commissioned in the littoral communities.
Comrade Mulade, who spoke on series of neglected issues, also condemned the recent advocacy visit embarked upon by the deputy governor, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, to the creeks, describing the visit as a time-wasting venture with no concrete results to show for it.
He advised Governor Okowa to take a cue from the former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, who personally visited the creeks in the heat of an inter-ethnic conflagration, where he engaged the critical stakeholders, a step Mulade stressed ensured the cessation of hostilities by the warring parties.
‘’The Delta state government has not been sincere with the people in the riverside communities as far as this crisis is concerned. The governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, is just playing to the gallery apparently because of security votes and the revenue from the federation account.
‘’To mark his one year in office, he commissioned some projects in the upland part of the state, none in the areas that are producing the money he is using to prosecute these projects. We are completely neglected. We are not happy with the governor.
“Avengers and other miscreants are destroying pipelines and the environment and the government has shown no serious commitment towards addressing the fundamental issues, engaging critical stakeholders to find a way to arrest the dire situation. They are only bothered about the oil money and not interested in the development of the people,’’ he said.
Asked to comment on the recent advocacy visit by the deputy governor to the creeks, he said the tour was just to cajole the people as it did not yield any positive result, as militants were still bombing pipelines even when the visit was in progress.
‘’If the governor is sincere about addressing the crisis, he should personally lead the negotiation by visiting critical stakeholders and the communities to see things for himself. The level of hardship in the communities is unspeakable.
’He cannot continue to be engaging political stakeholders who are beneficiaries of the crisis and expect to achieve a lasting solution. It is amazing that the continued lack of sincerity to end the crisis is a result of security votes. It is the poor citizens in the communities who bear the brunt,” Mulade said.