The Coordinator of the Concerned Ilaje Stakeholders Committee, Akinola Gbonegun, has said that the Ilaje community is being “punished” for demanding that an indigene of Ilaje should be made the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, Gbonegun said that the NDDC act, which was created in the year 2000, specified that the board would have a Managing Director (MD) and two executive directors. However, since the NDDC was established in 2001, no indigene of Ilaje, an oil producing community in Ondo State, had been put in any of the executive positions.
Gbonegun said, “If it had been rotated the way it was mentioned in that act, it would have been the turn of Ondo state. It never was,” going on to say that “rather than rotation, they are doing repetition,” saying that it was unfair for another indigene of Bayelsa to be put as the MD when Ondo hasn’t had the opportunity yet.
The group coordinator then said that this was done to ‘punish’ the Ilaje community saying, “Since 2009, during the time of Yar’Adua, the Ilaje’s have been agitating that it’s high time an indigene of Ilaje land becomes an executive of the NDDC based on the law setting up the NDDC act, but that never happened. Now, 2013, there was agitation for an Ilaje man to become the MD. It never happened. The subsequent government followed it up that- these Ilaje people are asking for, though it is their right, but they’re always asking for it. Okay, we’ll take it to Ondo state, we won’t give you guys, against the law.”
Gbonegun explained further, saying, “Last year, they said they were taking it to Ondo state, they gave it to one Mr. Charles Ogunmola. Ogunmola is from Owo. He is not, with due respect a qualified professional, but not an indigene of the oil-producing area.” He said that although the three senators from Ondo state went to the senate about the nomination, it was still approved.
“Ordinarily, you’ll expect an Ilaje man to be chosen rather than someone from Owo,” he said, going on to say that although he has a lot of respect for the people of Owo, the position is “not for them.”
Speaking of the steps that the people of Owo had taken to get their grievances heard of the alleged unfairness against them, he said, “Last year, 3 senators representing Ondo state wrote the Senate President, nothing was done. This year, we took up advertorials, open letter to Mr President in two or three national dailies, writing Mr. President, personally, we wrote Mr. President. As we talk, there are about three cases in court, but there is this same attitude of there is nothing they will do.
“I know Ilaje people are peaceful people, but you can push them too far. We took it up to make sure those youths are not on the street, and they said, okay, you too try it whether they will listen to you. And if we continue at this rate, anything might happen. That’s what we want to avoid.”