Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Gov Douye Diri of Bayelsa on Friday urged the Federal Government to consider renaming the East-West Road in the South-South region to reflect its real location and status.
Diri also called on the Federal Government to ensure more inclusiveness in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to give the Niger Delta people a sense of belonging.
Senator Diri stated these when he received the Minister of Niger Delta, Mr Abubakar Momoh, and his entourage, which included the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Sam Ogbuku, in Government House, Yenagoa.
The governor noted that the East-West Road had been in a deplorable condition for years.
He argued that the nomenclature of the road, which crisscrosses all the South-South states, was a misnomer.
He said: “I believe that is a wrong nomenclature. That nomenclature should actually be the South-South Road because it links all the six states of the South-South region.
“That nomenclature might have come in those days when Bayelsa was part of Rivers and they were part of the Eastern region. And when Delta and Edo states were part of the Mid-West region. So that nomenclature would have been a historical west to east.
“Today, the story is different and I appeal that the Federal Government changed the nomenclature from East-West to South-South Road. That road is central to all the six states as it traverses all of them.
“Unfortunately, at the moment, the road is nothing to write home about. That is one of the reasons people of this region feel that we are being shortchanged even with all that we produce. With all that we bring to the federal kitty, what actually comes to us is more like peanuts. And often, when the peanuts come, there are some out there opposing it.
“We actually believe that in a federal system of government, regions and states should be allowed to exploit what is in their region and states and pay taxes to the federal government as that is the standard across the world.”
Diri, however, commended President Bola Tinubu for the appointment of Momoh as well as Ogbuku as the substantive NDDC MD, saying both of them are illustrious sons of the Niger Delta.
On the impact of the Niger Delta Ministry on the region, Governor Diri asserted that there was a need for more inclusiveness by the ministry.
He said that its budget preparation and policy implementation should be made to address the challenges confronting the Niger Delta people.
“I like to bring to your knowledge that the Ministry of Niger Delta is too far from the people of the region. Far not in terms of location but the people of the Niger Delta want to feel and own that ministry as their own.
“The current situation is that the people are alienated from that ministry in terms of budget preparation, in terms of policies and their implementation. The people are asking for inclusiveness.
“We believe that your coming will bridge this gap between the people of the region and the ministry,” Diri said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Momoh, said he was in Bayelsa to seek collaboration with the state government on issues of development of the region, which included the completion of the East-West Road.
The minister, who lamented the poor state of the road, described it as significant to the region, which is host to some of the nation’s strategic assets. He solicited the partnership of the Niger Delta governors to tackle the region’s developmental challenges.