…as Ndoni people lament abandonment

“When history is being made, the makers of history don’t know. You have wiped out a ten year old tears from my face.

“Everyday since I left office ten years ago, I remember that one of the things I failed to do was to protect the shores of this area. We shall continue to support the Rivers State Governor to make Rivers State the first among equals”.

These were the exact words of the former governor of Rivers State, Dr PETER ODILI, in December 2017, when Governor NYESOM WIKE visited Ndoni District to flag off the shore protection project in five communities of the District, where ODILI hails from.

The five communities, where their shores were meant to be protected are Isukwa, Aze-Azaga, Oniukwu, Obiofu and Utu.

Dr ODILI’s profound statement stemmed from the firm promise made by Governor WIKE during the flag off,  to complete the project on schedule and to protect the lives of the people of Ndoni from the devastating effects of the River Niger, at least, as a mark of honour to the former governor ODILI, whom he said has been of immense help to his political stadium.

Brave Views can report that Governor WIKE had on the flag off of the project ordered the Permanent Secretary of the Bureau for Special Projects, ONWUZURIIKE OKERE to relocate to Ndoni with immediate effect to ensure the completion of the project.

WIKE boasted thus:

“When your father starts a project, it behoves you to complete the protect. We shall drive the shore protection works to completion.

“All the other communities mentioned by the Caretaker Committee Chairman of ONELGA will be added to this project. I don’t want excuses because we have all the money on ground to complete this project”.

The Rivers governor popularly called Mr. Project further affirmed this way:

“Dr. ODILI has never failed us and we will not fail him. You stood by us to ensure our political growth. I thank you for your political guidance. We are benefiting from your experience and direction”.

The concerned governor WIKE again said:

“If you see the five communities, you will pity them. This project will change their fortune. I have directed the contractor to also employ youths from the communities”.

However, four years down the line, nothing tangible seems to have happened to the project, thereby increasing the tears in the eyes or on the face of former governor PETER ODILI from ten to fifteen years and still counting.

When Brave Views News Crew visited the communities, indigenes described the shore protection project as good as abandoned.

Checks by Brave Views revealed that the Ndoni Shore Protection Project was not captured in the 2022 appropriated bill that governor WIKE presented to the members of the State House of Assembly last week.

The inability of Governor WIKE to capture the project in the list of previous projects to be completed with the 2022 budget, confirms the fears of Ndoni people that the project may have been abandoned.

When contacted on phone to speak on the issue, Acting President of Ndoni Community Nigeria, Chief EKE ODINZE, who did not give much details said although, the job is slow, he believed that that with prayers, the governor may still execute the job, since he still has till 2023 to leave office.

Also speaking to Brave Views in a telephone interview, is a former Caretaker Committee Chairman of ONELGA, EMMANUEL KEGUNANI, who said that the project is on course.

He explained that: “The project just started, they moved materials from Ndoni town, where they kept them to Aze Azaga, during the flood. They want to start work at Aze Azaga now”.

KEGUNANI said although he is disappointed at the delay in the actual commencement of the project. He was sure that, with what is ground at the moment, the state government is committed to the completion of the project before the expiration of the present administration.

He differed from natives, who said the project is abandoned but was quick to say that, “even if the project is abandoned, it will not be the first abandoned project in Nigeria”.

He went on to say that: “Another thing is funding, I don’t know the level of funding of that project but from what I see on ground, they will execute that project to its logical conclusion”.

In the meantime, some sources told our correspondent that the Ndoni Community has written several letters to the governor on the need to execute the project.

Our investigations revealed that after an initial release of a paltry percentage of funds for some preliminary job like soil testing, no money has been released since far, which is why the project has been stalled till date.

At the time the contract was awarded, a bag of cement was slightly above N1000 as against N4,5000 cost of a bag of cement today.

To this end, variation is necessary.

Speaking on this, a prominent indigene of Ndoni District from Aze Azaga, TONY MAJOR told Brave Views over the phone that 380 out of 500 metres of piling job in each of the five communities, is already done for his community, Aze Azaga alone while piling for the other four communities is yet to commence.

He hinted that the Aze Azaga shore protection project may be commissioned in May next year.

Asked when the other four communities would benefit from the project, TONY MAJOR, who is a part and parcel of the project has this to say:

“Thank you very much my brother, This is the question that we too are asking the state government.

“A provision has been made for one community, being my own community, Aze Azaga and that is why we are firing down now to see how we can complete that one first.

“For the other four communities, we are praying that the state government should do something about it.

“With the money we have, to finish one community is just in God’s hand.

“We have written to the government for variation because the cost of materials have gone so high from what it was, when the project was issued but we are yet to get a reply from government”.

He said funding was responsible for the delay in the actual commencement of the project.

“After the initial mobilisation of 15% APG which was used to mold the cast in 2018 after the flag off in 2017, nothing has happened again til this year”.

He regretted the danger the people are exposed to, following the devastation level of the shores in the various communities in Ndoni.

JMS is the company handling the contract.

He urged governor WIKE to redouble efforts and complete the project, so as to wipe out the tears on the face of PETER OTUNAYA ODILI.

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