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In continuation of his fact-finding
tour to oil-producing region  in the country, Acting President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, on
Monday in Benin City, Edo State, stated that Nigeria’s oil-producing
communities have suffered neglect and development due to the insensitivity and
corrupt activities of leaders and politicians entrusted with positions of
trust.

He however gave the assurance that
the federal government’s new era and vision aimed at developing oil-bearing
communities and other areas will boost development, unity and peaceful
coexistence.

Prof Osinbajo stated this during
the stakeholders meeting held at the Dr Samuel Ogbemudia College, Benin City,
where stakeholders poured out their minds about the challenges that were being
faced by oil-producing communities in Edo State and probable solutions to them.

Those who spoke before the Acting
President included Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu; Edo State
governor, Godwin Obaseki, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru
Usani and environmentalists, Rev David Ugolor.

Rev Ugolor said if the Federal
government was determined to develop the Niger Delta, focus should be shifted
from testifying traditional institutions to the people.

A mild drama ensued midway into the
programme as youths from oil-producing communities staged a protest that
stalled the event for about 30 minutes until they were prevailed upon by some
notable personalities including Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade
Philip Shaibu, who took time to talk to the youths.

The youths were particularly irked
that the Acting President did not visit their communities unlike when he
visited Rivers and some other states, pointing out that they were not being
accorded due respect as critical stakeholders in the development of the Niger
Delta.

They also complained that they were
not allowed to make their presentation at the event, vowing to make oil
prospecting hard for multinational firms if their communities were not given
due attention in the scheme of things.

Speaking after the unrest by the
youths, Governor Obaseki said Edo was big part of oil-producing state in
Nigeria with 38 oil-producing communities and 205 oil flowing wells, adding
that “we have had our own share of neglect that has become a major threat to
the state socio-economic development.”

In his speech, Pastor Usani Uguru
Usani, noted that the federal government was committed to completing ongoing
projects in the Niger Delta region, most notably the East West Road, appealing
to the state government to work with his ministry in order to complete the
projects and start new ones.

In his address, Acting President
Yemi Osibanjo said federal government’s plan was to ensure that the team
visited all the oil-producing communities, but time did not allow for such due
to the planned closure of the Abuja Airport, stressing that further
arrangements would be made for a repeat visit.

He read the riot act to contractors
handling government projects in the Niger Delta, especially those handling
projects awarded by the Niger Development Commission (NDDC), assuring that an
audit body would soon be constituted to look into all the contract awards and
funds spent on the projects with a view to bringing the overall spendings
before the Federal Executive Council for necessary action.

He said as an “emissary of
President Muhammadu Buhari,  the visit
was aimed at engaging the people and the leadership to seek for better
understanding and concerns as well as offer the oil communities a new vision
and a new compass.”

The Acting President said, “I have
listened to several of the complaints in several areas. I can tell you precisely
how much had been voted in several of our own communities but there is no sign of
development in those areas.”

“I can tell you how many of these
projects are supposed to have been completed and when you look into some books,
they said they had been completed but they have not been completed.”

They have not been done, many have
not even been started at all. That is the story not just in the oil-producing
communities of Edo State but the story everywhere.”

“We are committed to everyone of
the things that we say we want to do. It does not make sense for leadership to
look at the plight of the people, especially in the oil producing areas.”

“This is the source of the wealth
of the nation and to ignore the people even if it is for a while; the time will
come when you can no longer ignore them.”

“So o there is no question at all
that we are committed to doing what we said we would do and that is a pledge
coming directly from Mr President himself, President Muhammad Buhari.”

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