The Deputy Senate President and Delta APC Governorship candidate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has expressed concern over acts of injustice meted out to oil-bearing communities in the country, particularly in the Niger Delta.
This is even as he revealed that the push for an increment of the equity shares of host communities to five percent in the Petroleum Industry Bill, now Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) was a major struggle.
Senator Omo-Agege made the disclosure in Warri, Delta State on Sunday in a meeting with The Struggle Platform, a group pushing for improved condition of Ijaws in oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta.
He was accompanied by his running mate, Rt. Hon. Friday Ossai Osanebi; State APC Chairman, Elder Omeni Sobotie; Chairman, APC Delta Central, Chief Paulinus Akpeki; APC House of Assembly Candidate for Patani State Constituency, Barr. Raymos Guanah; High Chief Michael Johnny; former Commissioner, Chief Chris Ekiyor among others.
The Delta Central lawmaker lamented that the Ijaws and other oil-producing communities that lay golden eggs have been abandoned by successive administrations in the state. This unfortunate situation, he said, has led to untold poverty and deprivation in those communities.
“I believe that government has been unfair to the Ijaw people, given their contribution to the economy of this country. And given their contribution to the struggle for what comes to Delta State.
“Not too long ago, the issue of the PIB, now PIA came up. And there was a debate as to what should be the entitlement of host communities. As the Deputy Senate President and Leader of the Southern Senators, I had caused a meeting to be held in my house where we took a position that at the very least, we should go for five percent.
“Negotiations this time became very serious. While some of us were fighting that at the very least, we go with the five percent that had been passed in the House of Representatives, they were able to permeate the Senate through some of our leaders who felt that three percent is okay. That we should take three percent first. If the House could take it at five percent, why not us in the Senate?
“I don’t want to mention names but leaders called in to say we should accept it for now… I say this to let you know that we initially aimed even higher than five percent,” he said.
Senator Omo-Agege promised to change the narrative and judiciously utilise resources of the state for the benefit of all if elected governor.
He expressed regret over the plight of pensioners, describing the refusal of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration to pay pensioners their entitlements as callous.
His words: “I can commit to you that that era where people will spend the best part of their lives rendering service to this state and having retired from service, will not be paid their pensions and gratuities will be over. I think it is wickedness to do that and that era will be gone for good.”
In his remarks, host and chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Ekpebide, announced his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC). He promised to mobilise his supporters for all candidates of APC in the forthcoming election.
“After 2007, I have never been active in any political party. But today, I am wholeheartedly for my brother and that which he represents in APC. The official declaration will be done in Okerenkoko, our ward headquarters. But today, I am telling you that wherever you stand, that’s where I stand. And I am not alone, I am working with people. My associates, friends, and brothers are all with me on this. After this, so many things will roll out. And I am very sure that we will get to the promised land,” he said.
In a similar vein, the leader of the group, Elder Timi Ogoriba, commended the DSP for his sterling leadership qualities. He said the APC Governorship candidate has shown capacity by the quantum of zonal intervention projects he influenced in his senatorial district. “We have known you as a go-getter. Going with you will not be a misplaced priority,” he said.
Membership of The Struggle Platform is drawn from the Ijaw-speaking areas of the Niger Delta.