20 years after Warri war, Ijaw, Itsekiri unite against oil companies


TWENTY years after the Ijaw and Itsekiri crisis in Warri, Delta state, the two ethnic groups came under the same roof yesterday to demand a fair deal from the rich oil deposit in their communities

At a joint press briefing, they threatened to disrupt the free flow of oil exploration activities in their communities in the state if the Federal Government failed to halt bid process for the 57 marginal fields. They also demanded resumption of work on the abandoned multi-billion-dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park project, GRIP, and the deep seaport in Warri South-West Local Government Area. Chief Mike Odeli of Movement for Development of Itsekiri Oil and Gas communities, and Chief Godspower Gbenekema of Ijaw nation, who addressed the media at a mammoth gathering of both ethnic groups in Warri, also called on international oil companies, IOCs, to relocate their headquarters in the country to the region. They added that the Federal Government should immediately dissolve the Interim Management Committee, IMC, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and appoint a substantive board.

The ethnic nationalities further called on the Federal Government to appoint a Coordinator from the Niger Delta region for the Presidential Amnesty Programme, rejecting the committee running the place. They further enjoined the government to resume work on the abandoned Omadino-Excravos and the Koko-Oghoye Road projects abandoned since the birth of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The people of Ijaw and Itsekiri added that the government should relocate the Floating Dock/Shipbuilding yard lying fallow outside the state, for use of students of the Nigerian Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko, Warri South-West Local Government Area.

Their statement read in parts: “The Federal Government should order the immediate resumption of work at the multi-billion dollar gas revolution industrial park project, GRIP, and the deep seaport in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State. “It should immediately halt the current process of bids for the 57 marginal fields to incorporate the interest of competent companies owned by Gbaramatu indigenes as well as Itsekiri sons and daughters from oil and gas-producing communities. “If not, we will be constrained to shut down the operations of the multinational oil and gas companies 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 and gas-producing communities and the Gbaramatu Kingdom. “We demand an 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, intending to carry out the necessary remediation so that the needful can be done for those who have suffered loss or damage “The IOCs in our lands should apply the local content acts in their employment regime.

The Federal Government should instruct Nigerian Port Authority, NPA, through the Ministry of Transportation, to dredge the Excravos bar mouth to enhance the optimum usage of the Warri, Koko, Burutu and Sapele ports in the state. “We demand immediate constitution of a substantive NDDC board instead of the present Interim Management Committee that lavishly wasted our derivation money on COVID-19 without recourse to the communities that should have had the large chunk of the accrued money to the commission and whose interest are capitally inimical to the development of the Itsekiri oil and gas producing communities and the Gbaramatu kingdom.”