Peter Dada, Akure
Hundreds of youths in the Igbokoda area of Ilaje Local Government in Ondo State, on Tuesday took to the streets of the town to protest against the alleged abandonment of various projects in the local government by the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The youth, under the auspices of the Ilaje Advancement Forum, alleged that the NDDC had abandoned many multi-billion naira projects in the various communities in the local government area.
The protesters, who were singing various anti-government songs, shut the main gate of the NDDC office in Igbokoda, while some charms were also placed in front of the office by the angry youths.
They also carried placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘NDDC is a curse to Ilaje’; ‘NDDC must work’; ‘Ondo State Government has failed us’; ‘Federal Government has failed us’; and ‘NDDC is another yahoo yahoo’, among others.
The leader of the protesters, Juliet Ehinmowo, alleged that the there had been diversion of money meant for the development of the Ilaje community into private pockets, leading to the abandonment of the projects.
She said there was a need for President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the activities of the NDDC, alleging that the commission had not performed well in Ondo State.
Ehinmowo stated, “We have earlier written to the NDDC on the reckless and fraudulent conversion of billions of naira meant for laudable projects in the Niger Delta region of Ondo State but nothing has been done. There are many abandoned projects in Ilaje land. “It should be clear and loud enough to the NDDC that the era of criminal abandonment of projects in Ilaje land is over as we will no longer watch from the sidelines as spectators despite the fact that this was the same local government that gave the impetus to Nigeria as a crude oil bearing nation over 100 years ago in Araromi town.
“We reject in totality the erection of ordinary signboards for multi-billion naira projects for over a decade, while the contractors get away with the entire mobilisation money, as this has been the lot of Ilaje land since the inception of the NDDC except for few cosmetic projects like boat landing jetties and a handful of cheap termite-infested wooden hospitals. We will no longer tolerate this.”
In his reaction, the Ondo State representative on the board of the NDDC, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa, said that the commission was aware of the abandoned projects.
He explained that the commission was already taking steps on the matter as all the contractors involved had been contacted on the matter.
Ayedatiwa gave an assurance that the abandoned projects would be completed.
He said, “Since I came on board five months ago, I have been engaging some contractors who have left sites before my assumption to go back to the sites and that certain amounts of money will be paid to them as soon as they complete certain parts of the work.
“I want to tell you that the NDDC too is not happy that some of these projects are stalled, but we are working on the way out.”