The Fiyewei (Spokesman) of the Great Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama T.D.A, JP said if the Ajaokuta Kaduna and Kano Gas line of 40 inches pipeline projects can commence amounting to cost billions of dollars yet the Gas Revolution Industrial Park , GRIP which will include Deep Sea Port in Gbaramatu Kingdom and EPZ Ogidigben, Ugborodo have not commenced , noting that the transporting of gas through to AKK is from the Niger Delta and their communities hosting the production of the natural gas as well as the oil and gas facilities.
Chief Gbenekama urged the federal government of Nigeria to attend to their demands urgently as they are tired of waiting for nothing than to push forward their demands, adding that Delta Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa through his Deputy Barr. Kingsley Otuaro have intervened making them to slow in taking action that FG have not made any attempt to address their challenges raised so far even as their ultimatum given to FG expires.
The Great Gbaramatu Traditional Council of Chiefs and the Movement for the Development of Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities, MDIOGPC, in a joint communiqué issued Sunday July 12, 2020 in Warri, Delta State declared their intention to cause consequential shutdown of oil and gas facilities in their domain following expiration of the different ultimatum they handed down to the Federal Government.
Addressing an elaborate press conference on behalf of both parties, the Olorogun of Warri and Chairman Board of Trustee, Movement for the Development of Itsekiri Oil and Gas Communities, Chief Mike Odeli, stated: “You are aware that the Gbaramatu Traditional Council of Chiefs, in conjunction with the communities that make up Gbaramatu Kingdom, in a press release, signed by the Spokesman (Fiyewei) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama JP addressed to the President of the Federation, Muhammadu Buhari, about the continued marginalization of the Kingdom and initially gave a 10-day ultimatum, which was later scaled down to 4days last weekend as the countdown had since elapsed.
“Members of the Movement for the Development of Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities, MDIOGPC, in a petition ably signed by Prince Isaac Botosan, the executive chairman equally gave a 14-day ultimatum to President MuhammaduBuhari several days ago to address the marginalization of Itsekiri oil and gas producing communities in Delta State.
“It is however shocking that despite the warnings by the Gbaramatu Council of Chiefs and the Movement for the Development of the Itsekiri Oil and Gas Producing Communities, MDIOGPC, the Buhari led Federal Government remains adamant to our genuine demands, regarding the barefaced ostracism staring at our faces on daily basis, particularly by those in charge of managing affairs in the Oil and Gas Sector in this country. By this, we mean the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries such as NAPIMS and DPR.
“The marginalization is also clear in the way and manner the current administration shockingly abandoned the Multi-Billion Dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project, GRIP, and Deep-Sea Port in Warri South- West Local Government Area, Delta State. The GRIP project and Deep-Sea Port have the prospective to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs as well as boost economic diversification, particularly in the coastal communities of Warri South-West LGA, and the Nation in general.
“It will interest you to note that the just concluded ground breaking of the 614km long Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) natural gas pipeline meant to convey gas to the Northern part of the country, Morocco, the United Kingdom, etc a 40-inches diameter pipeline expected to transport 3,500 million metric standard cubic feet (MMSCF/D) per day of dehydrated wet gas, which is the same amount of wet gas intended for the GRIP, in Warri South-West LGA but stalled for the former. This is what we termed sheer insensitivity by a government that displays ill-attitude towards developing other regions, especially the ones that lay the golden eggs like ours. It beats our imagination as to how a government that claimed to practice and encourage local production suddenly deviate from its agenda rather than encourage local industrialization through project such as the GRIP, instead opted to sustain the continued exportation of our natural gas without adding value to them. On this, while we are in total support of the AKK, we say the GRIP-EPZ must be continued or we will be constrained disrupt any attempt to continue with the AKK.
“We will like the world to know that on the 26th of January 2020, millions of dead and rotten fishes surfaced on the waterways and fish-traps in Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Itsekiri coastal communities. Till date, no Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) has been carried out, despite repeated letters written to both the Government and all relevant agencies.
“Gbaramatu and the costal Itsekiri people had to engage Environmentalists, who carried out analysis on samples collected, and the findings correlate, but a little higher than the report released by NOSDRA, which confirmed there was heavy metal pollution, despite their attempts to downplay its effects. These heavy metal pollutions have been linked to activities involving oil exploration in the region, our suspect we already know, according to a report by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF).
“We are also at a loss, as to why the age-long Omadino-Escravos Road, expected to connect the Oil and Gas rich Coastal Communities in Warri South and Warri South-West Local Government Areas of Delta state, as well as the Koko-Ogheye road anticipated to join Warri North and the South Western part of Nigeria, apparently remain abandoned till date, despite exploitation of huge natural resources from the area. The roads strategically have enormous infrastructural advantage to the coastal communities of the Itsekiris, Ijaws, Ilajes etc, that dwell, and as well as the IOCs operating in that axis of the Nigeria.
“Despite the hue and cry from different Itsekiri and Ijaw groups as well as professional bodies, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the relevant Federal Government MDAs such as Federal Ministry of Works, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and NDDC as well as the Multi-National Oil and Gas Companies to immediately embark on large scale shore protection/sand-filling projects in Itsekiri riverine/oil producing communities and Gbaramatu kingdom, the administration has continued to play dumb on the exigency to save the riverine/oil producing communities from rampaging Ocean surge.
“The Gbaramatu Ijaws and the Itsekiri oil/gas producing communities, have continued to brood the apparent aberration of the Local Content Act as it affects direct employment opportunities into The Nigerian national petroleum cooperation and its subsidiaries, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and other IOCs, operating in our communities. These companies secretly conduct employment without recourse to the host communities where they operate, while our eminently qualified graduates as well as technicians roam the streets, living at the mercy of their indigent and aging parents.
“The Itsekiri oil/gas producing communities and Gbaramatu Ijaws, have been grossly marginalized in bid offers, since the discovery of Crude Oil in our Homelands for over 60 years running. This is despite the mammoth environment hazards, poor sanitary conditions, lack of health care facilities and zero Federal Presence in Gbaramatu and Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities in Delta State.
“We must at this juncture, reiterate our total rejection of the recently announced 57 Marginal Fields, offered by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR. We can no longer continue to sit down and watch outsiders, being offered Oil Mining Licenses in our homelands, when we have capable Gbaramatu and Itsekiri Sons as well as Daughters, whose firms are qualified, but repeatedly denied such licenses by the sustained-structural bias of the NNPC and its subsidiaries such as the DPR.
“We are also aware though not perturbed neither are we discouraged in our quest to justifiably right the wrongs of the past, we make bold to say that information privy to us have it that the DPR is a step ahead in their usual gimmick to shortchanging our people and have also tighten their bureaucratic bottle neck that any firm not registered as exploration and production company will be disqualified. This to us is a joke taken too far, we will use everything at our disposal to resist all devilish attempt meant to impoverish our people from participating in the ownership of their God given resources.
“You will recall that the President Buhari led Federal Government in her program tagged the ANCHOR BORROWERS PROGRAM in 2015 through the CBN Governor disbursed the sum of 55Billion Naira to farmers, and these monies were proceeds of Oil and Gas, yet nothing tangible is approved for capacity building as a way of supporting the entrepreneurs from our host communities who are interested in owning marginal fields.
“We challenge the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, NNPC and its subsidiaries to publish the names/companies that own Crude Oil Blocs in Delta State. Because records available to us, indicate that neither Gbaramatu nor Itsekiri indigene from the oil/gas producing communities has or operates Oil marginal field in the State, even though the Crude Oil and Gas Resources are exploited in our God-given lands.
“The Federal Government often complain of the negative impact the twin evil; Crude Oil Theft and Pipeline Vandalism across the country (especially the Niger Delta) have on the economy, but suffices to emphasis that the continuous neglect of Gbaramatu indigenes and Itsekiris from oil/gas producing communities by the Federal Government in investment opportunities in the Oil and Gas Sector, will aggravate Crude Oil Theft and Pipeline Vandalism.
“Sadly, while Gas is piped from Gbaramatu and the coastal Itsekiri Communities to provide electricity to the East, West, North, and other parts of Nigeria, our communities are left to grope in darkness. Apparently, the Escravos environs power supply project intended to light up the Gbaramatu and Itsekiri oil and gas producing communities had since been abandoned.
“This continued darkness is untoward and has added to a myriad other issue, like pollution, poor sanitary conditions, total absence of potable water, lack of healthcare facilities to deal with the ailments that continued oil and gas exploration has caused. As we have shown, the Federal Government owes a debt of gratitude to us and a duty that can only begin to be repaid by fulfilling its commitments and obligations to Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Itsekiri Oil/Gas producing communities
* The Federal Government should order immediate resumption of work at the Multi-Billion Dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project, GRIP and the Deep-Sea Port in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State.
* We are calling on the Federal Government to immediately halt the current process of bids for the 57 Marginal Fields whereby the doctrine of necessity should be invoked and applied to incorporate the interest of competent companies owned by Gbaramatu indigenes as well as Itsekiri Sons and Daughters from oil and gas producing communities given “right of first refusal” on marginal fields in our homelands, before being thrown open to outsiders.
* If competent companies owned by indigenes of Itsekiri oil/gas communities and Gbaramatu people are not considered by DPR for the 57 Marginal Fields with immediate effect, we will be constrained to shut-down operations of the Multi-National Oil and Gas Companies (IOCs) operating in our homelands.
* The Federal Government should direct the relevant MDAs/IOCs to embark on large scale shore protection/sand-filling projects in Itsekiri Oil/Gas producing communities and the Gbaramatu kingdom
* The Federal Government should institute process for the facilitation of the abandoned age-long Omadino – Escravos Road and the Koko/Ogheye Road Projects, which have remained a mere campaign tool for successive administrations, despite their strategic importance to the socio-economic development of Delta state and the South-Western part of Nigeria.
* The urgent and immediate relocation of the Floating Dock/Ship Building Yard to enhance capacity building for students at the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko as was earlier envisaged.
* We demand immediate and comprehensive investigation into what led to millions of dead and rotten fishes that surfaced on the waterways and fish-traps in Gbaramatu Kingdom and coastal Itsekiri communities , with a view to carry out the necessary remediation, so that the needful can be done for those who have suffered loss or damage.
* We strongly demand that the President Buhari led federal government should direct the IOCs working in our land to revoke and applied the LOCAL CONTENT ACT in their employment regime.
* The Federal Government Should instruct Nigerian Port Authority through the Ministry of Transportation to dredge the Escravos Bar-Mouth in order to enhance the optimum usage of the Warri, Koko, Burutu and Sapele poets in Delta State.
* We demand immediate constitution of a substantive NDDC board instead of the present interim committee who lavishly wasted our derivation money on Covid-19 without recourse to the communities that should have the lager chunk of the accrued money to the commission, and whose interests are capitally inimical to the development of the Itsekiri Oil/Gas producing communities and the Gbaramatu kingdom.
“We eagerly await speedy action on this as the clock ticks closer to our joint ultimatum, to avert fresh crisis in the Oil and Gas Industry”.
The Fiyewei (Spokesman) of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbenekama T.D.A, JP who also spoke during the briefing, declared: “If AKK projects piping gas to North can commence, NGC should do the needful, we are not joking this time around. If our communities can’t have light, there will be no part of Nigeria that will have light. If there’s no GRIP, there will be no AKK projects. NPA must start dredging of Escravos area, if they don’t do it, we will push our threat through and they should wait for our action”.
He added: “We are saying no to Interim Management Committee for NDDC, they have used billions to purchase face masks. We will ensure no oil, gas flow through Ijaw of Gbaramatu and Itsekiri oil producing communities”.
Gbaramatu Woman Leader, Chief Vero Emmanuel, equally vowed that they will shut-down all oil facilities in their communities, if Federal Government don’t yield to their demands, Mrs. Tsaye Mene of Omadino Federated Communities, stated: “We will ground the economy of Nigeria, if Federal Government don’t attend to our demands”.