Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
Following the difficulty faced by road users in accessing Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene Road, a concerned group under the aegis of Niger Delta Activists Forum has given a 21 day ultimatum to the Minister for Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola to fix the road.
They made the call during a media briefing in Calabar, the Cross River state capital where they said “the minister must address us and the entire Niger Delta people on the genuineness of federal government’s commitment to fixing the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road, to be followed with immediate action. Failure to undertake the afore-stated actions within the next 21 days, the Niger Delta people will respond in the loudest way possible, including but not limited to sustained mass action”.
In the communiqué signed by the National President of the group, Success Jack, National Treasurer, Bernard Okori, Chairman, Cross Rivers State Chapter, Paul Abang Ajie and the state Public Relations Officer, Ogar Emmanuel Oko, they disclosed that issues surrounding the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road was on the national spot light seven months ago.
“The Niger Delta Activists Forum agitated, vigorously and mobilized a massive protest, against the federal government to dramatize our pain. Fashola quickly released the sum of three billion and five hundred million naira, for immediate mobilization to site. We engaged further with him and the entire Ministry of Works and on the 24th December, 2019 at their Ministry headquarters in Mabushi, Abuja and a truce was brokered. Some of the agreements reached were:
* That all ongoing Federal road projects within the Niger Delta region would be completed within the 2020 fiscal year save for a few with overlapping design timeline.
- That Federal Executive Council approval would be sort for the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road.
- That the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road would be placed on the list of projects to benefit from priority funding. Meaning that execution was to draw monies from SUKUK bond which the Federal Government would be accessing by January of 2020. And work was expected to commence before the end of February 2020, et cetera.
“We are fully aware how they deliberately chose to prioritize and fund other projects over this one, forgetting that Oil flows from here and not from those other places. The immediate environmental consequences are born here and not in those other places where they have prioritized over our region. The road in context has now become a national wreath of sorrows, tears and pains on our people and an emblem of shame, hanging over Fasholas neck and the ministry under his watch.”