The İjaw Community in Gelegele, in the Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo have called on the anti-graft agencies to probe all issues relating to the proposed development of the Gelegele seaport by the Edo Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the call was made in a statement signed by the president of the Olodiama Youth Council, Mr Tari Opobunu, which was released in Benin on Wednesday.
The statement said that the project was ill-conceived, designed to fail from the onset, and also meant to disparage the Ijaw community of Gelegele, in the Ovia North East Local Government Area of the state.
It noted that although the Gelegele Community had earlier given their support for the proposed seaport, unfolding events have caused the people to realise that the project was just being used as a conduit pipe to siphon tax payers’ money.
The community also alleged that the state government was using the project to cause a crisis between the İjaws in Edo and the Bini people.
The statement noted that without any consultation with the Gelegele community, the government changed the name of the proposed port from Gelegele seaport to the Benin River Port, because of its sinister motive.
“We wish to inform Edo people that the Ijaws, in general, and the people of Gelegele, in particular, have given all necessary support that any responsible and result-oriented government will need to actualise any people-oriented project, as it relates to the development of the Gelegele seaport.
“It will also interest the public to know that as we speak today, there is nothing visible that is ongoing at Gelegele, as regards the seaport project.
“Though we have always been skeptical towards the foot dragging of the state government, we got wind of the change of name from Gelegele Seaport to the Benin River Seaport, without any form of consultation whatsoever.
“We consider this as an affront to us as a people and a calculated attempt to undermine our integrity. We, therefore, call on the Edo House of Assembly, the EFCC, the ICPC and most especially, the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), to investigate all issues relating to the gelegele seaport project.’’
Meanwhile, the Edo Government has, however, allayed the fears of the people of Gelegele on the Seaport Project.
Mr Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser on Media and Communications Strategy, to the Edo Governor, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Friday that the project was being executed in stages.
He explained that although he had no specific details on the project costs and its mode of financing, the project was being implemented in stages.
Osagie also said that the name of the Port should not be an issue, “but what should ultimately be of concern to the people should be the completion of the project.
“Every single transaction that the state government is going to do about the project is being implemented in stages, at the moment.
“What is being done at the moment are the regulatory aspects of the project which basically concern its framework.
“After this, we will move to the next stage of the project which is the drawing down of the actual project and, thereafter, the physical implementation aspect.
“İn any case, when the state government announced this project, it did not say it was going to be completed under a single term. These are transactions that can take five to six years to be completed.
“İt is into the second term that some of these projects will actually take shape; it will even transcend the life of this administration. For instance, the Azura Power Plant was conceptualised under the Gov. Oshiomhole’s administration but it was not fulfilled under him.
“When change is coming, it brings some level of apprehension, some of these concerns are unnecessary. Whatever name the Port is called, the location remains the same and the people of that location ultimately will be the first beneficiaries of the project,’’ he said.