East-West road: Protests enter 5th day as Minister releases N2.5bn for repairs

Comrade Legborsi Yamaabana,President-General,Ogoni Youth Federation addressing peaceful protesters.

Okafor Ofiebor /Port Harcourt
Youth and cultural groups from Okrika and Movement for the Survival of Ijaw Ethnic Nationality of the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) on Friday joined Eleme youths in solidarity on the closure of the Eleme section of the East-West Road.
The protest started on Monday was meant to demand for the reconstruction of the road.
The protest enters its fifth day on Friday with continuation of the carnival-like atmosphere pervading the three major junctions of the road – Refinery, Aleto and Alode..
But the federal government said it has released N2.5billion for the repair of the dilapidated Eleme-Onne axis of the East West Road.
The federal government also released N2.5billion for payment of compensation to property owners along the road.
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godwill Akpabio at a meeting with management of RCC, explained that a N4.9 billion naira compensation had been paid earlier. He directed that repair works on that road should begin today.

Some of the protesters on the road

Emmanuel Obe, a journalist based in Eleme community while commenting on his Facebook  post timeline on the fifth day of protest, said, “The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, had urged the youths to vacate the road, saying government had released N2.5 billion to Reynolds Construction Company (Nigeria) Limited (RCC), Nigeria – RCC to commence remedial work on the road.
But the youths defied the minister, insisting that they must see work start on the road before going home”.
Our correspondent who has been monitoring the protest reports that the Ogoni Youth Federation,OYF, has expressed mixed feelings over the announcement of the release of N2.5 Billion for payment of compensation to property owners along the East West road.
The group said the releasing the part payment for compensation is not only diversionary but a grand attempt by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to hoodwink and deceive the protesting youths to withdraw from the road.
The group,  in a statement signed by Comrade Legborsi Yamaabana, President-General, Ogoni Youth Federation, said, “The aim of the 5-days old mother of all protest remains on the forefront, which is the demand for the re-construction of the entire stretch of the deplorable Ogoni axis of the East-West road (Eleme junction to Onne). We expect the Federal Government to display good faith and mobilize contractors handing the road project to site to implement our demand and stop playing to the gallery.
“It should be sounded clear that the gimmick of the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio aimed at tricking the protesting youths will not work as we are determined to remain on the road till the Federal Government mobilize contractors to site.
“May we seize this opportunity to appreciate and thank the Eleme Youth Council ably led by Comrade Prince Okereke, Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Obolo Youth Coalition, Ogoni People Assembly and other stakeholders and groups too numerous to mention for their solidarity and support. God is on our side, history is on our side”.