Isoko Development Union (IDU), the umbrella socio-cultural organisation of the Isoko ethnic group of Delta state has bemoaned the continued neglect of the area by the Federal Government despite being oil producing zone since 1957.
Chief John Paul Odhomor spoke to Daily Sun after a visit of by the executive of the Lagos branch of the union to two traditional rulers in Isoko. The union had visited the Ovie of Ozoro Anthony Uvietobore Ogbogbo, Ibuka 1 and the Odion-Ologbo of Oleh Anthony William Omovughe Ovrawah, Omogha 1 to sue for peace over the land dispute between the two communities.
Odhomor who is the patron of the Lagos branch of the union said it is lamentable that Isoko is grossly underdeveloped even as its oil output is high. More worrisome is the deprivation of the citizens from partaking in the ownership and management of the oil wells in the two local government areas, Isoko North and Isoko South local governments, Odhomor siad.
Decrying the poor condition of the people, Odhomor said: “We should be involved in the exploration of the oil wells, especially those ones that are naturally located in the land. Our people should be given the opportunity to manage some of the oil well, instead of bringing people from outside who have no relationship with Isoko ethnic group.”
He said the citizens of the area “are just being used as labourers, paid peanuts and dumped. Yet, there is gas flaring everywhere, oil spill everywhere, destroying farm products, rivers and other natural resources that were once the mainstay of the people’s economic life.”
While commending the state government for its contributions to the development of infrastructures in the area, he noted that such development efforts were inadequate. “We need the special attention of the Federal Government to address the needs of the people. According to him, the area needs more educational institutions such as polytechnics and colleges of technology, hospitals, electricity, roads, drinkable water and industries. For example, the few health facilities in the area are in poor condition, many communities are yet to be connected to electricity while those that have been connected hardly get light.
Earlier in his comment, the president of the Lagos branch of the union, Comrade Frank Alordia expressed concern over the land dispute between Ozoro and Oleh, describing the two communities as the “eye of Isoko”just as he noted that both communities are headquarters of their respective local government areas. He said the union frowns at any act that could endanger peace in Isoko.
He said the union’s visit to the traditional rulers was to convey their desire for an amicable resolution of the dispute without war and the loss of lives and property. He was hopeful that the dispute will be resolved when he said “the response of the two traditional rulers was encouraging as they assured that everything will be done to achieve peace.” Alordia also expressed worry over the unending war between Okpolo-Enwhe and Igbide where lives and property have been lost.
On the socio-economic situation in Isoko communities, Alordia blamed the Federal Government and politicians for the woes of the people. He said: “It is the representatives of the people that ought to bring the problems of the people to the notice of the government but we have discovered over the years that many politicians who go into government go there and forget their communities. They remember their people only during election season.
“A recent delegation led by the president-general of Isoko Development Union, Chief Idhu Amadhe to President Muammadu Buhari was to let the Federal Government know that in spite of the 13 per cent derivation, there is no development in Isoko land. We are happy that the government is carrying out forensic audit of NDDC. The contractors that have collected money for jobs they never executed will account for those monies.”