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June 22, 2024
State News

Monarch, others protest in Ondo council over ocean surge |

Thousands of aggrieved residents have staged a peaceful protest in Ayetoro community in the oil-rich Ilaje Local Council of Ondo State, alleging government’s neglect, following an ocean surge that rendered over 5,000 people homeless and destroyed schools, health centres and other critical structures.
Led by their traditional ruler, the Ogeleyinbo of Ayetoro, Oba Oluwambe Ojagbohunmi, the women, youths, children, and the aged bemoaned their alleged abandonment by the Ondo and federal governments.

The protest was observed by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).
According to the Media and Communications Officer of CAPPA, Robert Egbe, the protesters, who displayed placards that read: ‘Reclamation is not impossible’, ‘Oil corporations are smiling, local people are crying’, and ‘Save our Souls’, lamented the recurring sea incursion that has claimed over 85 per cent of their land.
They regretted that despite the community’s status as a cultural heritage, oil extraction by multinational corporations and the resulting spillage from extractive activities have not only contaminated their waters but also worsened sea incursion.
According to them, past efforts by the government to address the situation yielded no tangible results.
The initiatives, they said, included a shoreline project contract worth billions, allegedly awarded to one Gallet Nigeria Limited to protect the community from the devastating surges in 2003, and an allocation of N6.5 billion to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the construction of a shoreline protective wall in 2006.
On the Gallet contract, the monarch said, “We only hear of these promises to intervene, and the billions of naira awarded for reclamation projects in the news. But nothing has happened so far. None of the people or companies in charge of these projects have ever shown up in the community. Those who came only made our situation worse by digging holes without follow-up measures.”

Hundreds of schoolchildren at the protest voiced concern over how their schools had to be relocated several times due to the ocean surge, which has caused many of them to drop out of school.
The protesters called on President Bola Tinubu, the National Assembly and Ondo State government to save their community from extinction by building embankments to halt the surges.
They demanded a comprehensive audit and urgent probe of the multibillion-naira funds voted for the community’s coastline protection, and the immediate return of contractors to the site.
The residents further expressed willingness to support the government’s rebuilding efforts by providing manual labour, if needed, to expedite the process. They appealed to state authorities to speedily mitigate the burden of the ocean surge on vulnerable residents, particularly the elderly, who have now reached the limits of their coping capacities.

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