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The Presidency has intervened to protect the interest of oil-bearing communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

This followed the save-our-soul letter written by the Ibeno chiefs to President Goodluck Jonathan over issues concerning the execution of development projects by Federal Government agencies in their area.

This was made known last Saturday by Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, while addressing the chiefs and people of Ibeno at the local government council. The chairman, who was accompanied by the NDDC Managing Director, Barrister Bassey Dan-Abia and other top officials of the Commission, said their fact-finding visit and meeting with the chiefs were at the instance of the Presidency.

He said that following the complaints of the Ibeno chiefs in their letter to the President, the NDDC and the other relevant agencies were directed to step-in to quickly address the concerns of the people. He re-assured them that the NDDC board was set for serious business and would do its best to actualize the mandate of Mr. President with regards to developing communities in the Niger Delta region.

Senator Ewa-Henshaw urged the chiefs to thank President Jonathan, whom he described as a listening President. “This President is concerned about your affairs. He, therefore, deserves your support and appreciation,” he said.

He commended Governor Godswill Akpabio, for partnering with NDDC to execute the Eket-Ibeno Road, which was being expanded into a dual carriageway, noting that the 20-kilometre road, with four bridges, would provide easy access to the Qua Iboe Terminal.

The NDDC chairman said that the various challenges listed by the Ibeno chiefs would be looked into and addressed appropriately.

According to him:” Things must change and change for the better. One of the mandates of the NDDC is to ensure that communities impacted negatively by the environment were adequately taken care of. Ibeno as a coastal community suffers from oil spills that may have occurred in other places.”

In his own contribution, the NDDC Managing Director, Sir Dan-Abia, noted that Ibeno people as major stakeholders in the Niger Delta project deserved to benefit fully from the interventionist agencies of the Federal Government. He told the chiefs: “Our biggest problem is funding. But be rest assured that this board will right the wrongs of the past.”

The paramount ruler of Ibeno, Owong Effiong Archianga, regretted that in spite of the fact that Esso Oil Exploration and Mobil Producing Nigeria started oil production in Ibeno as far back as 1970, the communities in the area have very few amenities to show for their contribution to Nigeria's oil wealth. “In the entire Ibeno community, there is no portable water provided by the NDDC or the state government,” he lamented.

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Articles by Chike Duru