An Ijaw-born Deltan, environmentalist and community leader, Chief Comrade Sheriff Mulade has condemned in strong terms the deliberate neglect and deprivation of Ijaw areas in terms of development in the state, under the Okowa adminstration.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Warri, Chief Mulade, who is the Ibe-Seremowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom of Warri South West local government area of Delta dtate, expressed total displeasure over government’s continued neglect of the Ijaw nation, despite its massive political support and over 60% contribution to the state treasury from its marine, oil and gas resources.
While reacting to Governor Okowa’s achievements as reported during the state’s 30th anniversary celebration, Chief Mulade, former Chairman of the oil and gas rich Kokodiagbene community and the immediate past General Secretary of Egbema and Gbaramatu Communities Development Foundation (EGCDF), said Delta Ijaws have no tangible legacy projects under Okowa led government to celebrate. He lamented that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa never considered or believed that Ijaw areas should be developed, as Ijaws are only relevant during general elections to give block votes.
He noted that under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, three institutions were upgraded to universities but none was sited in an Ijaw area neither was the campus of an upgraded institution sited in Ijaw community, while the Ayokoromor bridge has been abandoned.
He said appeals from Ijaw across the state for the upgrade and transfer of the School of Marine Technology, Burutu to the Delta State Ministry of Education for quality education was neglected, while the calls to the Governor to stop the communal conflicts between Ogbe-Ijoh and Aladja communities to usher in total peace has also been neglected for political reasons.
Comrade Mulade noted that the only legacy projects in ijaw area since the creation of Delta State are the Bomadi bridge that has opened up the area, linking about fifteen communities, the State School of Marine Technology, Burutu which only functions on paper, and the Omadino bridge constructed under the administration of Chief James Onanefe Ibori to link Okerenkoko, Pepe Ama, Kokodiagbene to Escravos area, has been deliberately abandoned just to make the area underdeveloped and economically irrelevant.
He described Ijaw political leaders in the state as political jobbers interested only in their stomach infrastructure, eye service political leaders to impress their principal who are mere tools during elections by canvassing political sentiment of one Ijaw nation, Ijawism and one big family in politics, so as to to give block votes without anything to show for it year after year.
He expressed shock that the headquarters of the four Ijaw LGAs in the state namely Bomadi, Burutu, Patani, and Ogbe-Ijoh cannot be classified as towns let alone cities among those enumerated by the state governor during the 30th anniversary celebration, such as Aboh, Agbor, Isele-uku, Ogwashi-uku, Kwale, Asaba, Ughelli, Oghara, Ozoro, Abraka, Sapele, Oleh, Warri; no single Ijaw town qualified because of the high level of under-development in Ijaw land.
He said the internal concrete walkways constructed by the Okowa adminstration, which he referred to as road, cannot stand two rainy seasons because of the substandard and low quality construction works, particularly the one at Oporoza, the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, and which is not linked to any community around it.
“Our God given natural resources are being used on a daily basis to develop other parts of the State but Ijaw areas are left undeveloped deliberately, a situation that has forced many Ijaw riverine dwellers to migrate upland to seek for better life,” he said.