Yenagoa — Former member representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Clever Ikisikpo, has extolled President Muhammadu Buhari for granting an indigene of the state a licence to build a private refinery in Bayelsa.
The gesture, according to the former lawmaker, is an indication of President Buhari's commitment to developing the Niger Delta region.
Senator Ikisikpo, an indigene of Ogbia, same local government area with former President Goodluck Jonathan, declared that Buhari had done what the immediate past PDP led Federal Government with a Bayelsan at the helm of affairs failed to do for the state.
He stated this at Kolo in Ogbia Local Government weekend when students from Bayelsa East District, consisting of Ogbia, Nembe and Brass local government areas, conferred on him an award for his quality leadership in the area while at the National Assembly.
The former two-time member of the House of Representatives said the refinery licence granted to a Bayelsan as well as the award of an oil block to another indigene of the state and other developmental projects being undertaken in other parts of the region by the Buhari administration would help change the fortunes of the people.
He said, "If I say we should appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari, people will ask, why should we appreciate him. You may not know why we should thank God for making Buhari the President of Nigeria.
"Today, what our own could not give to us, Buhari has given to us. An Ogbia man, Dr. Eruani Azibapu, has been given a licence to build a private refinery. We had an opportunity given to the people of Ogbia, Nembe and Brass to own oil blocks in the past, did we get any? No.
"But Buhari has given one of us, a woman, an oil block. That is why I am saying we should appreciate Buhari. He is doing well for the Niger Delta people. Because if the refinery is built today, it will take not less than 10,000 workers. Will Brass, Ogbia and Nembe, not get up to 3,000 workers there? Then, would you not be empowered?
"So, are we not supposed to appreciate Buhari? The oil block we could not get is to be given to one us. If oil block is given to an Ogbia, Nembe or Brass person, are we not going to get one of the Alakijas, are we not going to get one of the Danjumas. Oil block is one of the things that make those people billionaires. Today, Danjuma can give somebody N2bn without batting an eyelid."
Lamenting what he described as the missed opportunity for the Ijaw to change the narrative of the Niger Delta, he said some of the presidential aides from the state wasted the commonwealth of the people through greed making it impossible for the region to feel the impact of governance.
"I want to tell you some bitter truth. There is an adage that says, 'before you remove the speck in someone's eyes, first remove the log in your own eyes.'
"God gave us an elephant but we allowed the elephant to get rotten. Some may not get the adage perhaps. If we had judiciously used that elephant properly, I think by now, Bayelsa East would have become a 'small Dubai'.
"But we misused the opportunity. Through that opportunity, we could not get oil blocks, through that opportunity; we could not get even modular refineries in Bayelsa East.
"Bayelsa East is the first place to produce crude oil in Nigeria, but go to Oloibiri where oil was first discovered in commercial quantity, the place is a thick forest, where you can kill the biggest animal on earth. Is it supposed to be so?"
He recalled his effort to resuscitate the abandoned federal road project aimed at linking the communities on the Atlantic fringe in the East senatorial district to mainland Yenagoa but lamented that the project had not been completed till date.
"When I entered the House of Representatives in 2003, my first motion was how to make Oloibiri a place that would be conducive for every Ogbia person, every Nembe person and every Brass person. I moved the motion that the Federal Government should build an oil museum there, a beautiful resolution was given but nothing happened.
"At the House of Reps, the first position given to me was deputy chairman, House Committee on Appropriation. The former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswan, was the chairman.
"I told him in our first budget meetings that what I wanted was the Yenegwe-Okaki-Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road. When we met with the Budget Office, they asked if the road was a federal government road. I said yes. And they said, go and bring documents. We got the documents at Federal Ministry of Works and presented them.
"That was a project that was started during Melford Okilo's administration (in the early eighties) but was abandoned and went into oblivion. Today, the project has been forsaken. Like I said, we were given an elephant, if the elephant that we were given, had used the opportunity very well, that road would have moved up to Brass today."
Continuing, he said, "look at the East-West road, we had a very big 'elephant' that we could have completed the road in two years but it is still there.
"Buhari has marshalled out a lot for us like modular refinery and our youths will not just be workers but stakeholders in the project.
"We need to appreciate Buhari and support him for fighting corruption and bringing positive change in the country.
"If Buhari had not come to power we wouldn't have seen most of what we are seeing today."