•Demand completion of the project before 2023
•Call for increased funding of the project
•Threatens mass action at Delta govt house
By Timi Black, WARRI
As Delta marked 30years anniversary, angry youths of riverine communities and civil rights groups in the state have protested over what they described as poor funding of Ayakoromo bridge by the governor of the state, His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
The angry protesters who stormed the project site on August 27, 2021, threatened that they would mobilize to the government house, Asaba and shutdown Government activities unnoticed if their demands for the urgent completion of the bridge was not meant.
Community youths and activists who spoke at the protest, called on the governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to release more funds for the speedy completion of the bridge project.
The aggrieved protesters said despite promises made by the governor to complete the bridge project before leaving office, the project is still starved with funds.
They stated that there is need for proactive steps from the state government to complete the project as it was done to some other key projects in the state.
Speaking, Comrade Anthony Demebide, coordinator of the protest said urgent completion of the project would create more economic opportunities among the Riverine dwellers.
He further stated: “We are here for two reasons, one is to celebrate Delta State at 30 and secondly to demand the urgent completion of the bridge project. Delta was created in 1991 August 27 and today Delta State is 30years old, so as a state, we are very happy that we have existed for 30years, and again, we are here as well to call on the executive governor of Delta State, His Excellency Senator, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa to please complete Ayakoromo bridge project.
“Though, he inherited the project from his predecessor, Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan in 2015, and he promised us in 2015 at Kiagbodo during the campaigns that when elected, he was going to complete this project and he repeated the same promise in Burutu town, the headquarters of Burutu LGA, where he said, he was going to complete this bridge project, and today you can see that much have not been done, we are not saying he isn’t working but more funding is required for the speedy completion of the bridge project.
“Our worries are that being six years in office and this project is still begging for completion. I think, it is not really good, because we know the governor we have is a working governor. He is a road master, they called him Ekueme, which means talk na do, I think this celebration would have been more remarkable than what we are seeing if this project have been completed or near completion.
“As riverine communities, we would have been more joyful than this, with more testimonies, if this Ayakoromo bridge project could have been completed.
“This project, when completed, is going to link most riverine communities, link different local governments in the area, such as Burutu, Bomadi, Ughelli south and Ughelli North. It will equally develop the economic life of the riverside people in the state”
The Chairman of Ayakoromo community, Mr. Moses Mienkoromo, while addressing the press, said the importance of the bridge project couldn’t be overemphasized.
“If the project is completed, it will help to address the myriad of economic problems we are facing as riverine dwellers”.
He said: “My appeal to the government, firstly, I commend our governor, Okowa, for considering this project, I know he is working, but atleast still work harder to complete our bridge project, and bring more people oriented projects to the riverine communities in the state.
Mr EBibofa Richard and Comrade Lokiri Tamaraupreye who also expressed disappointment said
if the project is completed, it would enable the people to get quick access to health facilities and education.
They further narrated: “In this area, our major source of income is fishing and farming, it will enable us to transfer our goods to the city, and that will make transport easier for us in the riverine communities.
“He promised to take the bridge project as number one priority during his campaigns, but now the way we are seeing it, is like Okowa is failing us, so we urge him to mobilise workers to site.
“Our appeal to the governor is this, he is the Ekueme, the talk na do governor, please let him complete this Ayakoromo bridge project for us before leaving office.
“Our fear is that we are almost in the second quarters of Okowa’s administration, but no much work has been done on the site, we call upon the executive governor of Delta State, to promptly release funds to the contractor to complete Ayakoromo bridge project, one thing is that in the riverine communities, everybody talks good of former governor Ibori, because he completed Bomadi bridge, and for Okowa to also being in the mind of the people, let himself complete this bridge project so that they will talk of him like Ibori”.
Some of the civil rights Groups who participated in the protest were, Ayakoromo Activist Forum, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, IPDI, Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade (FOHURAC), Committee for Rural Development Movement (CRDM), Concerned Ayakoromo Citizen (CAC) and representatives of the various Riverine communities.