Sunday, August 1, 2021 11:39 pm
Okafor Ofiebor /Port Harcourt
Mr Obarilomate Ollor, the Chairman of Eleme Local Government on Sunday ordered the suspension of the one week peaceful protest by Ogoni youths at Eleme section of East West Road in Rivers State.
Ollor also revealed that he instigated the protest and also mobilized the Ogoni groups who joined in the action.
He had earlier given ultimatums of 14 days each for commencement of the repair of the road without response from the Federal Government before the protest began.
The suspension of the protest on Sunday was as result of the mobilisation to site by the contractor engaged by the Federal Government to repair the road, Reynolds Construction Company Limited.
The Project Manager, Akinfenwa Oyebode, had earlier hinted that work will actually commence after compensations had been paid to owners of properties that would be affected by the construction to avoid friction unnecessary litigation.
He said it would take between 18 and 22 months for the project to be completed.
Ollor at a press conference at Trailer Park, Ejamah, Ebubu Eleme, where RCC deployed its equipment to begin work said the decision to suspend the protest was taken after a painstaking consideration of a number of factors, which included the need to allow work commence on the road, the suffering the people, businesses and services in the area have gone through during the period of the protest and the need to give the Federal Government the benefit of doubt that it was committed to reconstructing the road.
Ollor thanked Eleme Youth Council, Ogoni Youth Federation, Movement for the Survival of Izon Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta, Okrika Local Government, Ogu Bolo Local Government, Tai Local Government, Khana Local Government, Andoni Local Government and Opobo Nkoro Local Government for the support they have during the protest.
He, however, said that if no reasonable action is taken to reconstruct the road within a reasonable time, the people would not hesitate to return to occupy the road.
Significantly, many members of National Assembly from the Rivers South-East led by Senator Barry Mpigi were at protesting stands to lend solidarity to the protesters.
In their speeches, the declared support for the protest, but they appealed for the temporary suspension of the protest to give the federal government contractor a chance to mobilize to site.
One of the leading organizers of the protest, Celestine Akpobari, a human rights activist warned the they will suspend the action with the clear understanding that what is required is total reconstruction of the road not repairs.
He warned that another repeat of the protest will lead to total shutdown of operations of all the companies.
They warned that after two weeks and nothing tangible was on ground,the Lawmakers will join in “mother of all protests”.
Last Thursday, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said government had released N2.5billion to the contractor to move to site, while efforts would be intensified to source the N85 billion needed to complete the project from the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The amount includes compensation to property owners whose houses would give way for the project.