Ilaje youths in their hundreds,yesterday, protested their non inclusion in the pipeline security and protection contract released to the oil producing states of the Niger Delta by the Federal Government. The peaceful protest which held at ‘Agbala Afin’ in the Kofawe area of Igbokoda had youths from Ugbo, Aheri, Mahin and Etikan in attendance.
While singing solidarity songs and brandishing leaves to show their displeasure at how Ilaje community has been short changed in the pipeline security contract, the youths had placards that showed inscriptions such as: “We say no to empowerment politics,” “Ilaje makes Ondo state the oil producing state that it is,” and “ Where is our pipeline security contract in Ilaje?” Other inscription like “If Federal Government denies us our right, we shall deny them our votes,” “No empowerment, no election in Ilaje” were also boldly show cased by the irate protesters.
A youth leader and ex Niger delta militant of the Ilaje extraction, General Timi Ogundere berated the Federal Government for committing such a costly oversight. In a voice laden with anger and disappointment, he condemned a situation where Ilaje will produce the oil and when it comes to empowerment, the Ijaws of Ese – Odo will be the sole beneficiary. He said Federal Government should not start another round of Ilaje / Ijaw crisis by giving to Ijaws what rightly belong to Ilaje nation. “We are using the medium of this protest to tell President Jonathan that if he wants our votes in the coming general election, he should provide us with our own slot of the pipeline security contract,” ex militant General Timi Ogundere said.
Other speakers at the protest, among them Benson Uroaye, Demehin Gbenga, Sola Obebe and Niyi Mafimisebi unanimously demanded the inclusion of the people of Ilaje in the pipeline security contract, stressing that Ilaje is the goose that lay the golden egg and cannot afford to look on while this grievous in justice is perpetrated against them.
It will be recalled that the president Jonathan led Federal Government has just released a nine billion naira worth of pipeline security contract to the oil producing states of Nigeria, out of which Ondo state is one on the basis of large deposit of oil in the coastal waters of Ilaje in the south senatorial district of the state.