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The Tide Online (Nigeria): Underdevelopment: We’re still dialoging with Shell – One-eh Ebubu

• Saturday, Mar 11, 2006
The discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in the Niger Delta region in 1956 and its attendant environmental impact on the lives of the people has no doubt given room to the recent agitation by the host communities for better deals. This development is due largely to the long neglect and debilitating state of infrastructures and poverty level in the oil producing communities, whereas the people are sitting on wealth.
Some Nigerians still believe that the communal crisis and other anti-social activities of the youths of the region especially the taken of oil workers into hostages was to some extent tracable to the long neglect and suffering of the oil bearing communities such that poverty, unemployment, environmental hazards and absence of basic amenities threaten the people daily.
Although the present administration at the centre has taken both executive and legislative measures aimed at addressing the excruciating experience and cries of oil bearing communities in the country.
Similarly, the governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili has not failed to associate himself and the government with the concerns of his people on the vexed issues of neglect, poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment in the area.
It is against this backdrop that His Royal Highness, Emmanual Bebe, the traditional ruler of Ebubu oil rich clan in Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State, suggested that the best way to address the problems in the oil bearing communities is for the oil prospecting establishment and other multi-national companies to make themselves more relevant to the host communities.
His Royal Highness Emmanuel Bebe who is the One-eh Ebubu posits that the lack of basic amenities in the oil producing areas has stalled the cordial relationship between the communities and the oil firms in the South-South zone.
According to him “my clan (Ebubu) which has about 50 oil wells and an oil production centre besides being a land-lord to several multi-national firms and their workers cannot boost of functional and standard market, neighbourhood water scheme and good network of roads among others.
The traditional ruler also decried a situation in which his clan parades educated sons and daughters and yet unemployment and poverty ravage the land, adding that even in the government establishment and other sectors of the economy, the people are not given opportunity to serve their fathers’ land.
He further stated that his greatest worry is that Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) which is a major oil prospecting and exploring firm in Ebubu clan has not shown a enough interest in the development and empowerment of the people.
The One-eh Ebubu clan who is frank to a fault said that the market and water projects initially promised the Ebubu clan by Shell Petroleum Development Company are yet to be executed stressing that the people would continue to use dialogue to ensure that standard of living of the people changed for better.
Consequently, the One-eh Ebubu has appealed to the Rivers State government and its agencies to prevail on the management of the firms operating in his clan to come to the rescue of the community.
He said that they could achieve this by offering employment opportunities to the sons and daughters of the community and embarking on projects that would put smiles on the faces of the people as to cushion the negative impact of oil activities in the area.
Commenting on the educational needs of the area, the Ebubu Monarch said that Ebubu Community Secondary School needs to be fenced as to wall –off the activities of cultists and encroachment into the land of the school.
In the same vein he called for the establishment of a General Certificate Examination (GCE) centre in the area as to compliment the efforts of WASC and NECO examination centres already in the area to address the educational needs of the youths in the clan.
On the abandoned old Bori road which cut across Eleme Local Government through Ebubu and ends at Eteo junction, Bebe urged the government to urgently start work on the project because of its importance in evacuation of food items produced in the area to urban cities where they are highly needed, pointing out that non-completion of the road has cut-off Eubu people from the neighbouring communities.
On the agitation for creation of local government councils in the country, the Royal father described such move as legitimate demand.
He therefore wants the Federal State governments to create a local government councils for Ebubu people to be called Odido local government council out of the present Eleme with its headquarters at Ebubu.
The One-eh Eubu is also of the opinion that Eleme deserves more second class chieftaincy stools and appealed to Rivers State government to accord such recognition to the people.
On the achievements of the executive governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, Bebe said the present administration in the state has brought succor to the people through people oriented projects.
He expressed satisfaction over the government’s welfare packages to traditional rulers in the state which according to him has helped the custodians of the people tradition to perform their functions.
Besides, he was happy with governor Odili’s youths empowerment policies and programmes, free education, independent power generation and new government house among others, saying that more attention should be given to grassroots people where more that 80% of the citizen reside.
Commending Justice Mrs Mary Odili, wife of the executive governor of Rivers State for rolling out The Adolescent Programme (TAP) aimed at equipping the youths with various skills and vocation, the One-eh Ebubu also said the programme has directed the energies of youths into positive activities.
However, he spoke on the need to create more enlightenment on such programme in rural areas for their greater participation.
Commenting on the performance of the chairman of Eleme local government council, chief Ejor Ngowah Ejor, the Ebubu Monarch lauded the chairman for his achievements, adding that people of Ebubu are happy for the construction of a six classroom block in the community secondary school in the area.
While urging the council boss not to relent on his good works, he implored him to ensure that cultism, examination-malpractice were eliminated in the schools in the Local Government Area.

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