I have just received the sad and unfortunate news of the death of two military personnel attached to Setraco Nigeria Limited, and the kidnap of an expatriate working at the Ogbia – Nembe road project in Bayelsa State, following an unprovoked attack by unknown gunmen. One civilian member of staff of the company sustain injuries during the attack.
I wish to convey, without reservations, my indignation and outrage at this dastardly act. This is unacceptable and must be condemned by all well-meaning members of the public, as well as all stakeholders in the Niger Delta region and beyond.
It is truly saddening that lives have been so brutally taken in the course of our effort to bring development to the Niger Delta region. The Ogbia – Nembe road, which is a major project undertaken by the Niger Delta Development Commission, in partnership with Shell Petroleum Company, SPDC, is envisioned to open up communities along this stretch, all the way to Nembe and from there to Brass, in order to improve commerce, reduce incidents of piracy and criminal acts such as this, and improve the living conditions of the people.
Coincidentally, the first phase of this very vital project is in the final stages of completion and had been scheduled for commissioning later this April. Regrettably, that is no longer feasible. The contractors are pulling out of site and the NDDC is no longer sure when this project would be completed and commissioned.
Let me reiterate that the business of facilitating the sustainable development of the Niger Delta cannot be conducted in this manner. Development cannot occur in an insecure environment. Criminal elements cannot be allowed to be a clog in the wheel of our progress, because they negate our most sincere efforts at bringing development to our people. Communities cannot allow criminals to operate and reside among them, attacking projects designed to help them. The cause of the Niger Delta was not fought for this.
I call on communities of the Niger Delta, civil society organisations, governments and government agencies, the security agencies and all well-meaning members of the public to do all that is necessary and within law to bring an end to this. I call on security agencies, the communities where we have sited our projects, as well as local and state governments to guarantee the safety and security of personnel and infrastructure at all our sites. This cannot continue.
I convey my sincere and heartfelt commiserations to the families of the deceased, the management of Setraco and the Nigerian Army. I also call on these attackers to release the victim in their custody.
The Niger Delta cannot continue to be held hostage by criminal elements. Our best efforts cannot continue to be frustrated and we remain resolute, despite the machinations of enemies of progress, in our work to facilitate the development of the Niger Delta region.