*How contractors scammed the community
*Wike promised but yet to deliver development
By Olajide Fashikun
Andoni is a local government area in Rivers State which has produced great men and women of social values and networth beyond the poverty stricken amenities in the community. Andoni is a part of the world’s richest environment as they and Opobo/Nkoro local government areas of Rivers State are endowed with oil which should translate into petrodollars.
Yet, there is little or no development there. In fact, the LGAs are not connected to the national grid, forcing them to power their communities with generators. Shell, the petrol company provides electricity for them as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Leaders of the Rivers LGAs accused the oil companies operating in the area and the Federal Government of being behind the plight.
Recently, to be able to intellectualise their problem as a people and to uplift the fates of their people, the leaders are organising an economic summit.
The former Andoni LGA chairman, Orom Ntem Ereforokuma and his Opobo/Nkoro LGA counterpart, Maclean Bethel Uranta, as well as the former chairman of Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Economic Zone Development, Emiyarei Bertram Ikuru, spoke with glow on the situation in the LGAs and the possible gains of the summit planned some long years ago. Almost eight years after, the story is still the same.
Shell, Total and Chevron operate in these LGAs, they have representatives in the National Assembly and the State House of Assembly. Their voices are drowned. That is where the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Uche Secondus is from.
Question is, what has these retinue of political leadership done to utilise these opportunities for the development of their area and the benefit of the people? Are they themselves part of the enemies of the people?
Can someone ask, former Governor Rotimi Amaechi activated the Rivers State government to construct Unity Road to Andoni LG. what was the outcome of that bid?
To travel to Andoni LG before now, you would have to experience a lot of difficulties. Today, people are supposed to now drive on the new road. “Unity Road has not yet been completed” said my host when I first visited the community to my utter consternation.
“Andoni people also have model primary and secondary schools, new health centres that is now horribly dilapidated amongst other projects.
Eight long years, Andoni LG council is not connected to neither to the national grid nor to the Rivers State government-owned gas turbine at Afam! Haba! At the least, Afam power plant linkage would have ensured regular electricity supply.
Another irony: The representative of Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, when I last visited in Hon. Dakuku Peterside. He is today the Managing Director of NIMASA.
Current representative of Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Awaji-Inombek Dagomie Abiante, will be visited to tell us what plans he has marshalled to make his people better than he met then since he was elected. We shall bring his views and efforts intoperspectives.
What Andoni people need the most: Asked to identify the biggest needs of the people of Andoni, my then guide told www.gongnews.net “we need electricity supply, road, water and other social amenities in the LG. We have just won 86 oil wells from Akwa Ibom State and the 86 oil wells are located behind us at the secretariat of Andoni LG at Ngo. There is no impact of the 86 oil wells. The oil wells are in addition to the ones that we have already.
The oil companies are not people-oriented. Our big politicians are also not-people oriented. They want Andoni people to perish. They do not expect anybody to live on this land. They just want to do their businesses, make their money and go away, without developing the host communities and empowering the people.”
“SPDC, Total and Chevron that operate in Andoni LGA have GMoU with the people. Why are you still expressing displeasure? In the last 14 years, Shell has not paid one Naira to Andoni, as a local government.
“Our people are predominantly fishermen. In the so-called GMoU, Shell planned to establish cassava farms in Andoni. Who is ready to plant cassava with Shell? Why not help our people in deep sea fishing or modern aquaculture? Why not diversify their economy? Why not tell our people that there are easier ways to grow the fishes, without entering into deep sea? In Andoni LG, we have crude oil, diamond, gold, clay, iron and other natural resources. Our beaches are a massive tourism resource that can employ thousands of our youths.
Investors should come. They should partner with us. Andoni LGA is very peaceful. It is time we take our destinies in our own hands.
Can we ask other questions too: The week I visited Andoni, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who is now Minister of Transport brought in an Israeli team, promised to allocate a farm to Opobo/Nkoro LG for fish farming. He said publicly that the clearing of the land is being done at the site at Iwokiri, in Opobo, headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro LG). How is that farm doing?
In a brief interview at the ceremony, Amechi spoke of building a three-star hotel in Opobo. “We decided to look into tourism. One of the things that host tourists is hotel accommodation. Investors coming into an area for the first time, before putting up their places to carry out their activities, they need decent accommodation. In tourism, one of the best places you can use to accommodate everybody in the world is not personal houses, but hotels. It will come a day, investors will be all over the LGA and we decided to start the hotel project in Opobo, from the site of the former council secretariat, having built a new secretariat complex at the council’s headquarters.” Where is that promise?
Lamentations galore: Immediately you come to the LG, you are facing wide river. One way in, one way out. There is no road linking the LGA, for now. We all pass through the river using boats. The road being constructed was done half way. The contractor was paid up and walked away with the money and never completed the job.
We were told some of our big politicians collected a part of the money and allowed the contractor to walk away. We have to ask Governor Nyesom Wike why his government has not gone after the contractor? It is monies belonging to the Rivers State people and his government must ask questions and demand the completion of the road by the contractor or they hand them over to EFCC and or ICPC!
“That new generator of 2,000 KVA, which Governor Amaechi gave us in 2009 is what we are still using o. In a night, at the Opobo headquarters, the generator consumes between 10 and 13 drums of diesel, depending on the number of persons in town, when they put on their appliances,” said my well read guide who I begged to let me keep his name under wrap.
“If the people are completely in darkness, communication will be difficult, as they will find it difficult to charge their mobile phones’ batteries. We run the generators as much as we can, mainly on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except on other days, where we have special cases. We need more assistance to develop Opobo/Nkoro LGA. Our shoreline is long and well endowed,” he reeled with ease of reference.
“Please, we want to tell the world our own story. We want to make the world know what we stand for and the issues confronting us. Many people do not know where we are, partly because of the terrain around us, because people cannot drive to where we are. We want the world to know that we exist and we are in Rivers state, not in Akwa Ibom State or Cross River State.”
We had looked forward then to the Unity Road taking us to Nkoro, Kalibiama, Asarama and others, but the two local governments’ headquarters are not accessible by road. Ngo, the headquarters of Andoni LG; Ikuru, another major town in Andoni LG; Opobo, the headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro LG and the Atlantic shore cannot be reached by road.
I am not boasting, our shoreline is long and well endowed. Whereas, if you look at the shorelines of Lagos, they are receding, because the Atlantic Ocean is eroding the shorelines. The things being eroded in Lagos and other places are being deposited in our area. We have calm water and we also have Oyokoto fishing port, which some people describe as the largest in West Africa.
The Oyokoto fishing port is very large and direct to the Atlantic Ocean. You do not need to go far. Fishing trawlers, with a good cold room at Oyokoto and access road, the area will be transformed.
There are no Federal Government projects in Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro LGAs of Rivers State because people do not go there. People fear water a lot. There is no basis of engagement.
Nyesom Wike, we dey wait o: My source, revealed to me a media statement signed by Simeon Nwakaudu, the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, (Electronic Media) dated 6th May, 2017. We reproduce the statement verbatim:
“Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that his administration will ensure that the riverine communities of Andoni and Opobo Local Government Areas are linked to the rest of the state before the next electioneering campaigns.
Addressing the people of Andoni Local Government Area at Ngo during a grand reception/Thanksgiving Service for the recently recognised First Class Chief, King Job Williams Okuruket Nnabiget XIV, Okan-Ama Ngo of Ngo Land, Governor Wike said the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road under construction by his administration will be completed on schedule.
He said: “We will not visit Andoni for campaigns if the Unity Road is not completed. Go home and sleep, you must drive by road to Ngo and Opobo Nkoro. You can see that the work is going on.
“Continue to support the government. I made a promise and I will keep the promise. You supported us and you deserve the best”
The governor added: “As for the Ngo General Hospital let me assure you that we have paid the contractor up to 90 percent of the contract sum. There is no way the hospital will not be completed by the next one month.”
The governor said that he will not take the support of the Andoni people for granted, assuring them that he will take steps to uplift the area.
While congratulating King Nnabiget XIV, Okan-Ama Ngo of Ngo Land for his recognition, the governor announced his support to the project fund for the construction of a palace for the traditional ruler.
He thanked the Traditional Ruler and Andoni people for the chieftaincy title conferred on him. He said that the recognition extended to the First Class Traditional Ruler was coming at a time destined by God.
In his address, King Job Williams Okuruket Nnabiget XIV, Okan-Ama Ngo of Ngoland, said that his recognition marks the end of several chieftaincy conflicts in the area.
He thanked Governor Wike for the recognition of his stool in line with the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction. He said that he will not pursue any vendetta as his interest lies with the development of Andoni Local Government Area.
Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Mr Ikunyi Ibani said the history of the people of Andoni cannot be complete without the mention of Governor Wike, who ended a chieftaincy crisis that has raged for over three decades.
The Speaker who represents Andoni State Constituency lauded the Governor for the full commencement of the construction of the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road and the total rehabilitation of the Ngo General Hospital.
He said: “I want to thank you on behalf of my constituency that you have done well for the Andoni people. The governor’s mandate runs from 2015 to 2023.”
Chairman of the occasion, Chief Silas Eneyo stressed that the mandate of the governor subsists till 2023 because of his outstanding performance and commitment to the development of Andoni.
Prominent Rivers leaders who attended the grand reception/Thanksgiving Service for recently recognised First Class Chief, King Job Williams Okuruket Nnabiget XIV, Okan-Ama Ngo of Ngo Land include, Former Acting National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, Former Minister of Transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo, Senator Lee Maeba, Former Deputy Governor, Engineer Tele Ikuru and Former Minister of Sports, Dr Tammy Danagogo.
The event was marked by traditional dances, boat regatta, music and the conferment of chieftaincy titles on Governor Wike
Uche Secondus, can we trust you?: If the leader of the PDP cannot lead a political movement to upturn his local community from a poverty and neglected community, including lobbying the Rivers State government to change the face and fate of the people, why must we trust him with promises of his party to change Nigeria? Where does his charity start from? Please tell him and let him know that these are the thinking line of our people.
The rich history of the Andoni people: Andoni people of Rivers State, of Nigeria, are considered to be Ijaw tribe by some, a distinct ethnolinguistic group by others and a people closely related to the Annang, Igbo, Ibibio and Efik people of Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State in Nigeria.
Historically, the Andoni (Idoni or Indo) is the first son among the many sons of Ijo (Ujo) heir to the throne of Oduduwa (Adumu) of Ile-Ife before the colonial era and had commercial contacts with European traders and with neighbouring Ijaw clans, such as the Bonny, Okrika, Kalabari and Nkoro.
The Andoni frequently fought wars with the Kingdom of Bonny. The Andoni people speak Obolo as the only native language. Obolo language is a combination of words from Igbo, Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Okrika, Ijaw and Nembe.
There is a historical link between the Okrika and the Andoni people. The Andoni people are the fiercest warriors in the Niger Delta, they have fought many wars with the Ogonis yet they are the best of friends. The Andoni (Obolo) clan of Ijaw is very wide with Ohafia and Aro (Arochukwu) people in Igbo land, Eastern Obolo, Ibeno-Eket and Oron in Akwa Ibom states and Andoni, Kala-Ido and Ogoloma in Rivers State.
The Andoni people are very cultural, among the key towns are Ngo (Gogo), Ebukuma, Ikuru (Ikwut), Ataba, Ekede, Agwut-Obolo, Okoromboko, Okoroete, Iko, (Eastern Obolo axis), Asarama, Unyeada, Dema and Ilotombi.
The Nwantam masquerade of Andoni celebrated every first January is one of the highlights of Obolo festivities, which they share with the Opobo, Nkoro, Bonny and Ndoki Ijaws. Their ancient practices includes a writing system known as nsibidi, ofiokpo cult and the war dance which both the Ohafia and Arochukwu clans still retain despite loss of original language.
Some parts of the Andoni tribe can be reached by roads and all can be reached by sea. It is rich in Wildlife (Elephants, Monkeys, Species of Pythons, Tortoise etc. and Mineral resources. It is a massive tourist location if developed.