The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has said that the Ijaw communities deserve more from the Edo State Government than the procurement of gunboats to enhance security in riverine areas of the state.
Omaghomi Olu-Derimon, the secretary, IYC Western Zone, stated this in a statement made available to reporters in Benin on Sunday.
Mr Olu-Derimon, who commended Governor Godwin Obaseki for the enhanced security across the state, said the Ijaws desire infrastructural development in their communities.
He said the people would have been elated if the funds used for procuring gunboats were directed to addressing the huge infrastructural deficits bedeviling the riverine communities.
The secretary said the first sets of gunboats procured by the government were yet to be utilised.
“It will be wrong if we say the governor is not doing his best in terms of security as it affects the state.
“Even the blind can attest to the fact that security in the state has improved tremendously under the leadership of the governor.
“Thanks to all security agencies and the Edo State Vigilante Network who are on ground in almost all communities, including our riverine areas.
“Just recently, the government announced that it has acquired some gunboats for the riverine areas mostly occupied by the Ijaws of Edo state.
“Edo State Government bought similar boats a while ago and we are equally aware these boats are still very new and are yet to be fully utilised as far as we are concerned, so why buy more?
“We have cried out that Ijaws are marginalised in terms of infrastructure, political appointments and elective positions,” he said.
Mr Olu-Derimon said that Ijaws in Ovia South West could not access Benin City because of the deplorable state of Udo Ofunama Inikorogha Road
He said that people in those communities have to travel through water to Gelegele or Sapele, Delta State, before embarking on a road journey to access the state capital or their local government headquarters.
Mr Olu-Derimon said that Gelegele Ekewan Barracks Road, which serves as a major access route to the state capital, is now bad.
According to him, “We have been crying for a long time that Mr Godwin Obaseki should cover up with the infrastructural underdevelopment in the riverine areas of the state since he came onboard but the story is almost similar with that of the previous administrations.
“I know if the story does not change under this present government, a 100 gunboats will not be able to change the insecurity that will greet the waterways which will extend to the hinterlands. I am saying this based on past experiences.
“We have over time demanded for three development centers for the three local government areas where Ijaws are domiciled.
“We also demanded for Edo State Riverine Development Agency and a Marine Academy in the areas,” he said.
Mr Olu-Derimon said their demands were to fast-track development in the communities.
He added that none of their requests has been attended to instead the government is acquiring gunboats which would be in use only when the governor visits or any other VIP visits the areas.
“It’s a New Year and we want to urge the governor to change the narrative in our area by giving us adequate development attention,” he said.
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