Federal lawmakers from Rivers on Monday staged a peaceful protest to demonstrate their grievances over President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged total abandonment of the oil-rich state.
The lawmakers including senators and House of Representatives members from the state staged the protest on Aleto/Akpajo Bridge, along the East-West road in State.
According to them, the action was meant to draw the attention of the Nigerian government to the critical need of road and other infrastructure in the state.
The protesters were led by Rivers South-East senator, Barinada Mpigi. The State Caucus in the national assembly who were part of the protest included Rt. Hon. Dumnamene Dekor, member representing Khana/Gokana federal constituency and Rep O. K. Chinda, member representing Obio/Akpor federal constituency.
Others were Hon. Awaji Inombek Dagomie Abiante, member representing Andoni/Opobo-Nkoro federal constituency; Hon. Chinyere Igwe, member representing Port Harcourt federal constituency 2; Hon. Gogo Bright Tamuno, member representing Okrika Ogu/Bolo federal constituency and their counterpart at the State House of Assembly representing Eleme constituency, Hon. Igwe Aforji.
They decried the state of Aleto/Akpajo Bridge and described it as a death trap not only for commuters, who plied the road daily, but to neighbouring Akwa Ibom and the Cross River States and the oil and gas business operators, who equally operate at the Indorama Eleme Petrochemical Company, Refineries and the seaport at Onne in Eleme Local Government Area of the state.
Senator Mpigi said during the protest, “We are here to draw the attention of President Buhari to the deplorable condition of this road and the bridge. You know that almost everything that Nigeria benefits from is within us here: two refineries, petrochemical industry and of course, the oil and gas free zone.
“We’ve seen and you are also seeing what is happening here. It shows that we’ve been abandoned. The people of Rivers State have been abandoned. This is a federal government road and not a Rivers State government road.
“You see that the bridge is shaking and there is the tendency that any moment from now, the total life of people from this area will be cut off from this country.
“One question we must ask: Are we really part of this country or not part of Nigeria? Are we enjoying our taxpayers’ money or we are not? The truth is that we have been abandoned and neglected.
“So l, the essence why we are here this morning is to stage a protest and tell Nigerians that we have been totally cut off from all we are supposed to gain from this country.
“Contract for this road had been awarded to RCC as we are aware. Just to execute. Just to release the fund meant for this road is like we have been abandoned. It’s not about increasing funding or not because there has been an existing budget and allocation for this road for a long time.
“We want the job to begin immediately. Once that has been done, we as members of the National Assembly can come back and talk about appropriation because the contract has been awarded and work started but now at a halt.
“The value of the contract to our knowledge was over N2 billion within the Ogoni-Akwa Ibom axis up to the Eleme Junction, the value, for now, is not known”.
The lawmakers in their different speeches vowed to continue with the protest until attention was given to the bridge.