SIR: I am constrained to write this open letter to draw your attention to the plights of the people of Ayetoro, in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Since my presence in the Eighth and Ninth Assemblies, several motions have personally and severally been moved concerning the parlous state of this oil producing Niger Delta community. The motions are of urgent national importance calling the attention of the federal government to the recurring sea surge which threatens the community to near extinction.
The issue here is about the safety and welfare of a people under your leadership; it is about life and death for all of us from the coastal region of Ondo State.
This issue can no longer be ignored, or be treated with laxity or tepidity; neither can it be swept under the carpet. It is heavily hitting at the very foundation of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our oil-producing communities in Ondo State. Consequently, I am deeply worried that we are now standing on a precipice where we may no longer be able hold the monstrous sea incursion at bay.
In 2004, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) awarded the Shoreline Protection contract to Gallet Nigeria Ltd but had the contract terminated about four years later on grounds of non-execution. After much delay, the contract was later re-awarded in 2009 to Dredging Atlantic with nothing to show for it till today.
Mr. President may recall that Ayetoro Community, aside contributing its own quota out of the 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day made by Ondo State to the nation’s oil production, is also of great historical and tourism importance, as the first community to have successfully practised communism in Nigeria. Therefore, this exposure of the people of Ayetoro community and their neighbours at Mese, Gbagira, Awoye and others in the coastline to excruciating ecological disturbance due to the oil exploration, exploitation and invidious opening of canals to the Atlantic ocean by oil companies operating within the region would not only be perceived as an infringement but a threat to lives and properties.
It is lamentable that projects are being repeated annually in the budget of the NDDC without reference to the Ayetoro Shoreline Protection contract. Sadly, no emergency relief materials or measure has ever been provided to the victims of the sea surge, neither has any sympathetic or genuine visitation been made by the relevant agencies or their officials to Ayetoro or any of the affected neighbouring communities.
As we head towards the rainy season, so the people live each day in constant and reasonable fear for the safety of their lives. If we do not act now, God forbid, we may not be able to curtail the seismic consequences to follow.
With utmost seriousness and concern, I seek your urgent and timeous intervention in the ongoing by ensuring that all hands be on deck to tackle headlong this recurring sea incursion in a manner that is holistic, inclusive and purposeful. The situation calls for cohesion, concentration of efforts and maximum force – be it political or economic to save the people of Ayetoro and the neighbouring communities. We cannot dither anymore.
I pray that God should grant you, our President the wisdom and courage to stand for us in this moment of challenge so as to prevent the worst from happening (Amen).
Hon. Kolade Victor Akinjo Ilaje/Ese-odo Federal Constituency, Ondo State.
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