Infrastructure: President Buhari has abandoned Rivers – lawmakers - The Naija Weekly

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Infrastructure: President Buhari has abandoned Rivers – lawmakers


Members of the National Assembly from Rivers State comprising Senators and parliamentarians in the House of Representatives have alleged of total abandonment of their State by the Muhammadu Buhari led federal government.
The members said that the government has turned a deaf ear to the infrastructural needs of the people.
According to them, one of such critical needs is the road infrastructure which is either lacking or under very deplorable condition.
Against this background, the members yesterday staged a peaceful protest on the Aleto/Akpajo bridge along the East-West road in Rivers State to draw the attention of the federal government on the poor state of the infrastructure.
The members led by the Senator representing Rivers South East in the Senate, Senator Barinada Mpigi said that the bridge has become a death trap not only for commuters who plied the road on daily basis but to neighboring Akwa Ibom and Cross River States and the oil and gas business operators who equally operate at the Indorama Eleme Petrochemical Company, Refineries and the sea port at Onne in Eleme Local Government Area of the State.
Members of the Rivers Caucus in the national assembly who were part of the protest included Rt. Hon. Dumnamene Dekor, member representing Khana/Gokana federal constituency and Rep O. K. Chinda, member representing Obio/Akpor federal constituency.
Others were Hon. Awaji Inombek Dagomie Abiante, member representing Andoni/Opobo-Nkoro federal constituency; Hon. Chinyere Igwe, member representing Port Harcourt federal constituency 2; Hon. Gogo Bright Tamuno, member representing Okrika Ogu/Bolo federal constituency and their counterpart at the State House of Assembly representing Eleme constituency, Hon. Igwe Aforji.
Speaking during the protest, Senator Mpigi said that the federal government has abandoned the people of the state.
He said: “We are here to draw attention of the federal government to the deplorable condition of this road and the bridge. You know that almost everything that Nigeria benefits from is within us here: two refineries, a petrochemical industry and of course, the oil and gas free zone.
“We’ve seen and you are also seeing what is happening here. It shows that we’ve been abandoned. The people of Rivers State have been abandoned. This is a federal government road and not a Rivers State government road.
“You see that the bridge is shaking and there is the tendency that any moment from now, the total life of people from this area will be cut off from this country.
“One question we must ask: Are we really part of this country or not part of Nigeria? Are we enjoying our tax payers’ money or we are not? The truth is that we have been abandoned and neglected.
“So l, the essence why we are here this morning is to stage a protest and tell Nigerians that we have been totally cut off from all we are supposed to gain from this country.
“Contract for this road had been awarded to RCC as we are aware. Just to execute. Just to release the fund meant for this road is like we have been abandoned. It’s not about increasing funding or not because there has been existing budget and allocation for this road for a long time.
“We want the job to begin immediately. Once that has been done, we as members of the National Assembly can come back and talk about appropriation because the contract has been awarded and work started but now at a halt.
“The value of the contract to our knowledge was over N2 billion within the Ogoni-Akwa Ibom axis up to the Eleme Junction, the value for now is not known”.
Also speaking, Hon. Chinda said that the lawmakers would not relent in their protest until attention is given to the bridge.
“Like our distinguished Senator has told us, those of us in the National Assembly have severally protested over the treatment of our people particularly concerning this bridge. We know that this place is the spine of this country. If the country is serious with oil and gas, then the importance of this bridge cannot be over emphasized.
“All the refineries, petrochemicals company, fertilizer company, they are all behind us here including Onne Sea Port and Naval Training School. To access these places, you need to go through this road.
“But because this is Rivers State, as usual there is graveside silence to issues that pertain to Rivers State. That is why, having brought motion on the floor of the National Assembly, members have supported that the Executive Arm should quickly ensure that this bridge is taken care of to forestall incidence that might occur that would lead to loss of lives of Nigerians. The Executive Arm is not sensitive to the resolution of the National Assembly.
“That is why we are now taking it to the court of public opinion. We are here to tell the people that we have been calling on the Executive Arm to take steps and we pray and hope, though they have been consistently insensitive to the yearnings of Nigerians. We pray and hope that this will sensitize them into action.
“We also want to assure all of us Nigerians that this is the beginning of the actions from members of the National Assembly from Rivers State. If the Executive Arm does nothing, we’ll take further steps but we’ll ensure that we continue to speak for our people like our distinguished Senator has said.
“I cannot give a time frame to the federal government because my leader is here. But the assurance is that we’ll take further steps if nothing is done after this discussion.
“Take note that Rivers people are not the main beneficiaries of this road. Nigerian State is the main beneficiary. What percentage do we get from the oil that we process here? How much percentage do we get from the Ports Authority that is here? We are not the main beneficiary, but rather suffer for all these.
“What we are saying is that the lives of our people are at risk. It’s not just the project. We are interested in what will happen if this bridge collapses and people are on it. Even now that we are on this bridge, anything could happen. That is our interest – to protect any hazard that is likely to occur because of the negligence of the federal government”, he said.
On his part, Hon. Dekor said that the bridge may collapse any moment.
“Incidentally, I happen to be the immediate past Commissioner for Works in Rivers State and I have very good knowledge of the situation of this road and the Akpajo Bridge. The sad truth is that this bridge we are standing on will not survive the next three months.
“This one we stand on, by God’s grace should not collapse any moment from now. And that’s why we’ve put up a motion on the floor of the Federal House of Representatives but the motion has not been taken. But because of the exigency of the fact that the collapse of this bridge is imminent, we call on the federal government through the Ministry of Niger Delta to in less than no time; intervene on this road to save the lives of the people.
“We are aware of the economic importance of this particular road. This road we stand on is the gateway to the economy of Nigeria and we urge the federal government, for once, to take appropriate steps. I’m aware that prior to this time, every intervention attempt to put this place in order has been done by the Rivers State government including the road which is also completely eroded.
“We call on the President of this country to urgently intervene to save the lives of our people because Rivers State is also part of Nigeria”.
Hons. Abainte and a member representing Eleme State Constituency in the Rivers House of Assembly, Hon. Igwe Aforji, who also spoke called on President Buhari to urgently come to their rescue, emphasizing the economic importance of the road.

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