Vanguard (Lagos)

8 April 2009

Nigeria: Why Rivers is Embarking on Port Harcourt City Project - Nwuke

THE idea behind the greater Port Harcourt city project unveiled last week by the Rivers State government according to the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ogbonna Nwuke is to open up the state capital and create more cities for the state.

Speaking against the backdrop of agitations by a group that the project was mainly to develop a section of the state at the expense of some riverine areas, the commissioner said the project was to create more commercial cities for the state.

He said it was sad that some could hold such ideas at a time government was discharging its duties to the people of the state. According to him, " Port Harcourt is over crowded, so this led to the expansion under the greater Port Harcourt City concept. The whole idea is to allow for the creation of new commercial and residential areas.

"This new plan spans about eight local government areas. We are talking about building the state. We want to build a state that is united and not a divided one". He urged those opposed to development of the state to drop such ideas because Governor Rotimi Amaechi was determined on the need to take the state to the next level.

Meanwhile, a militant body, Watch Dog of Niger Delta in a statement signed by its Secretary, Sam Ebiye said the project would shortchange some sections of the state.

The statement reads in part, "we condemn in strong terms the decision of the Rivers State Government from excluding the oil ... producing communities, Ahoada east, Ahoada west, Ogba-Egbema, Degema, Akuku-Toru and Asari-Toru which are at present the major oil producing Local Government Areas in Rivers State, the allocation that accrues to the state is mainly from the Gas and oil exploration in these areas, yet the Rivers State Government has excluded them in the greater Port Harcourt agenda.

"We are questioning what the Governor of Rivers State seeks to achieve by this act of seclusive development and dis-empowerment.

The restiveness and agitations from the oil bearing communities over the years have necessitated the creation of OMPADEC,NDDC and most recent the MINISTRY OF NIGER DELTA, all with the sole purpose of addressing developmental needs of the oil producing communities.

Rivers State Government policy of secluding the oil bearing communities from the dividends of development is a 'direct call to violence' in the state; it negates the peace and developmental initiative of the Yar Adua's administration for the Niger Delta region.

It is not acceptable for us to produce the resources to be used in developing other areas while our communities are been subjected to poverty, pollution, underdevelopment and the likes; this is the crux of our agitations which has resulted to violence that the Federal Government is struggling to address. "

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