From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has identified the clamour for membership of cluster development boards as one of the causes of the communal crisis in the state.
Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo made this known at a meeting with the paramount ruler and other stakeholders of the Oweigbene community in Government House, Yenagoa.
Ewhrudjakpo described the do-or-die attitude with which people struggle to become leaders and members of the cluster boards in some communities as demeaning and anti-development.
The deputy governor pointed out that such attitude had led to the abandonment of the people’s traditional occupations on the altar of local oil politics that is serving the interest of oil companies to the detriment of the communities.
He said the unnecessary delay in the composition of the boards as a result of bickerings was causing great loss not only to the affected communities but to the entire state economy.
According to the deputy governor, the non-composition of some of the boards including that of Oporomor cluster in Ekeremor local government area had cost the state over N1.5 billion.
He directed the Amananaowei of Oweigbene, Chief Kali Sito, and the CDC Chairman, Mr Miens Seleware, to sink their differences and nominate representatives of the community to the cluster board without any further delay.
‘We are much concerned about the reports we get from our communities because of the issue of cluster boards and GMOUs, especially from Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas,’ he said.
‘Our people don’t want to go to school again and have abandoned their traditional occupations of farming, fishing, and palm-wine tapping all because of the business of cluster boards.
‘Becoming a chairman or member of a cluster board is now the order of the day. Let us not kill ourselves over this. People who have served out their full five years’ tenure don’t want to leave for others to take over from them.
‘Unfortunately, most of them do not even know why they are there. So the oil companies use them as their stooges. The pertinent question is, how many of them have become billionaires through their membership of any of the cluster boards?’
While declaring the sitting Amananaowei, Chief Kali Sito, as the government recognised paramount ruler of Oweigbene, Ewhrudjakpo explained that the state chieftaincy law was enacted to forestall unnecessary change of leadership in communities.
For proper reconciliation of the two factions in the community, the deputy governor announced the setting up of a seven-man committee for the Oweigbene community in the Ekeremor council area.
The membership of the reconciliation committee includes the Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Governor’s Office, Alex Dumbo; the Chairman of Ekeremor Local Government Area, Dr Perekeme Bertola; and the governor’s Special Representative in Ekeremor, Hon Ben Iyeirorokumo.
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