By Ovie Okpare
The oil-rich Niger Delta region will remain poor and underdeveloped if the various ethnic nationalities in the region continue to fight themselves, a House of Representatives member, Rev Francis Ejiroghene Waive has said.
Waive, who represents Ughelli North, Ughelli South and Udu Federal Constituency, called on the people of the region to unite and fight in unison against the continued exploitation of the people of the region by internal and external forces.
The lawmaker lamented that in spite of the rich natural resources in the region, the people and the area have remained poor and underdeveloped.
The only APC lawmaker from Delta State spoke at his constituency office in Ughelli, while addressing journalists in the state.
He posited that politicians and other major tribes in the country were cashing on the division among the various ethnic nationalities to undermine the people of the Niger Delta.
Waive explained that the region might remain poor and underdeveloped if traditional and political leaders in the region do not urgently stem the tide to save the region.
“I believe that what we are getting now in terms of the allocation to NDDC, 13% derivation and the allocation to the states from the Federal Government are not enough. It’s a far cry from what we ought to get as a people and as a region because of the environmental degradation and the effect of oil exploration of several years.
“Having said that, we as a people in the South-South, we need to come together as one, we need to be united because that is the only way we can fight for our right, and get what truly belongs to us.
“If we are scattered, if we are disunited, then, the others will have the opportunity to take advantage of us, exploit us, use us as part to knock one another and exploit our resources”, Waive posited.
The lawmaker blamed the underdevelopment especially in Warri, the commercial centre of Delta, on inter-tribal crises, adding that the various ethnic groups in the city to unite for the socio-economic development of the town.
“Look at Warri for instance, it’s a sad story what this town has turned into when Warri Port was booming. You remember what this town used to be like when there was Shell and when Shell was building that Osubi airport? I believe that they had good plans in mind, not to abandon it, but look at where we are, and it’s all traceable to our inter-tribal problems and these problems do nobody good.
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“If we don’t know it, there are no tribes in the greater Warri area that will be able to alienate one another, the Urhobos, the Ijaws, the Itsekiris, we can’t eliminate one another, being together is God’s idea, and we must come together, partner one another, agree with one another, give and take, and then, we will be able to insist on our rights.
“Otherwise, politicians will take advantage of us, the system will take advantage of us, contractors, of course, will mess us up. There is a need for unity across the Niger Delta, across the states of the South-South of this country in order to bring development to our people.”
On the current crisis in Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Waive said, “It’s a sad reality that what is happening to us is an act of our own people but then there is a bigger dimension to it. The Act setting up the NDDC, the amount of money that should come is not coming, and it has never come.
“It’s because we are not united, nobody will ask and if we come together as a people and unite, we will be able to insist on the proper implementation of the act establishing the NDDC.”