From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Ex-agitators and former youth leaders of Isoko ethnic nationality, have raised the alarm of attempts by some individuals plotting to hijack the Isoko pipeline surveillance contract and undermine the efforts of the Isoko Youths Coalition.
They described the plotters as saboteurs who have now constituted a clog in the wheel of progress of the struggle for Isoko liberation.
The ex-agitators under the umbrella of
Generals of Isoko Nation, called on the the presidency, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to be alert to thwart such plots by unscrupulous individuals.
This was contained in a communique issued after an emergency meeting of the group in Oleh where they also passed a vote of confidence on the coalition of eleven Isoko youth groups convened by Mr. Iteveh Nur’ Ekpokpobe and Mr. Karo Edor who have been at the fore of the national putsch for the recognition of Isoko nation in the pipeline surveillance contract.
The communiqué was signed by Julius Mallam-Obi, Lucky Palama, Othuke Omoro, Awo Umukoro, Sam Uyeri.
The group said in 1998 five flow stations were shut down in protest with the aim to push for the development of Isoko land, noting that that objective has not changed.
“Instead, we have resorted to intellectual engagement, not because we are afraid of violence. But today, those who have fomented troubles leading to the economic woes of Nigeria are rewarded and respected while those of us who have embraced peace are relegated to the background. This cannot continue.
“We are perturbed by what we term ‘deliberate attempt by the Federal Government to undermine the autonomy of Isoko nation’ in the award of pipeline surveillance contract to stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
“Hence, we hereby commend the efforts of the coalition of eleven Isoko youth groups convened by our illustrious sons, Mr. Iteveh Nurudeen Ekpokpobe and Mr. Karo Edor who have been at the fore of the national putsch for the recognition of Isoko nation.
“We also commend the Nigerian Senate for its due diligence in listening to the plight and positions of the coalition and by extension adjudicating over the matter altogether. Nevertheless, we are concerned by several interests who are proving to be clogs in the wheel of progress of the struggle for Isoko liberation.
“We believe that a successful pipeline surveillance contract will bring numerous benefits to the Isoko people, including job opportunities and economic development as this can only be achieved if the contract is awarded to the right company and the process is free from exploitation and corruption.
“It is imperative that you are observant of those who are trying to exploit the opportunities provided by the contract with intentions that are not in line with the welfare of the Isoko people.
“Isoko nation is hereby distancing itself from the self-acclaimed Mayor of Urhobo that Isoko and Urhobo are two different ethnic groups, so the so-called Mayor should keep Isoko out of his personal schemes.
“It has come to our attention that this individual has been using the name of the Isoko people to further his political agenda and personal interests without our consent or approval.
“This is a gross misrepresentation of our nation and we firmly reject it. We would like to emphasize that Isoko and Urhobo are two separate and distinct ethnic groups, each with their own unique cultural and historical heritage.
“The Isoko people have always maintained a cordial relationship with our neighbouring ethnic groups, including the Urhobo, and we have always sought to promote unity and peaceful coexistence amongst all ethnic groups in the region.
“We would like to make it clear that the Isoko people have no involvement in the political struggles of the self-proclaimed Mayor of Urhobo and we do not support any actions or statements that may cause division or unrest in our communities.
“We implore the self-proclaimed Mayor of Urhobo to refrain from using the name of the Isoko people for his personal gain, and to respect our right to self-determination.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to extend a hand of friendship and cooperation to all ethnic groups in the region, as we believe that our common interests and goals are best served through mutual respect,” the communiqué read.