Economic activities were grinded recently on the Ughelli-Asaba Expressway, as Youths under the auspices of Isoko Development Union (IDU) Youths Wing staged a peaceful protest over the State Government’s exclusion from the 10 million naira social security fund.
The protesters numbering over hundreds with placards bearing various inscriptions such as “Okowa has refused to meet with Isoko Youths”, “We demand the release of the 10 million naira Social Security Fund meant for Isoko Youths”,“Isoko Youths are asking Okowa to Respect our Tradition”, “Multinational Oil Companies operating in Isoko Land are not meeting up with their responsibilities” among others.
The protesters came out very early thereby disrupting all economic, official and personal activities on the ever busy expressway. Being the first working day of the week, the gridlock lasted for several hours leaving travellers frustrated.
Fielding questions from newsmen, Comrade Obokpaino Fidelis, President of IDU Youth wing stressed that the protest is as a result of the state government’s refusal to release the 10 million naira Social Security Fund meant for Isoko Nation. “The State Government has given this same money that he is refusing to give to us to other ethnic nationalities across the State. What is our offence?
“Isoko Development Union, Youths Wing was inaugurated 16 months ago, but since that time till now, the State Government has resolved not to give IDU Youth Wing appointment for interaction. The marginalization of the IDU youth wing by the Delta State Government and the Multinational Oil Companies operating in Isoko land is appalling.
“We are being denied of what is rightfully ours; the Multinational Oil Companies operating in Isoko Land are not meeting up with their responsibilities. And whenever we approach them for dialogue, they always refuse granting us audience.
“Enough is enough, Isoko Youths are saying no to marginalization and deprivation. We are therefore demanding an interactive session with the State Government and also with the Oil Companies operating in Isoko land. We want to be allowed to present our demands to the Executive Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa.”
On their part, Comrade David Odafe Igbe, Secretary General IDU, Youth Wing and Isoje Esther, Women Leader. IDU Youth Wing stated that, Isoko Youths has been marginalized, deprived and disregarded for too long. “This is the right time to put an end to all forms of marginalization by the Delta State Government and Oil Companies exploring Oil in Isoko Nation.
While responding to the aggrieved protesters, the Speaker Delta State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, who met the protesters on his way to Asaba, appealed to the protesting Youths to remain calm noting that, he will look into their demands and present them to State Governor for positive action.
In a related development, the coordinator of Amagbein Peace Youth Movement for Justice and Equality, Pastor Bodmas Kemepadei, who was on ground during the protest, said, “We are here to show solidarity and support for Isoko Youths, we need to add our voices to their demands.
“We appeal to the relevant agencies and institutions saddled with the responsibilities of attending to their demands to do so without further delay. Because it is so unfortunate that voices of our people from Niger Delta region facing untold hardship has been silenced by political bigwigs who do not mean well for our region.
“But I am happy that, this people has come out to show their strength and I believe that with what has happened, we will achieve good result.” He enthused