By Ogochukwu Isioma
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has donated relief materials to Aiyetoro, a coastal community in Ondo State recently ravaged by ocean surges.
The relief materials were handed over by the Executive Director of Projects of the NDDC, Mr. Charles Ogunmola, who was accompanied by the NDDC Director of Ondo State Office, Mr. Olaniyi Salami, Director of Environmental Protection and Control, Engr. Obeka Onuoha, Director of Community and Rural Development, Mr. Gordon Okeya, at a ceremony at the Naval Base Igbokoda on Thursday.
Ogunmola said he received videos of the ocean surge that displaced over 200 households and destroyed properties worth millions of naira in the community and decided to send a team for an assessment. He said the team reported that the community needed urgent intervention and requested food and non-food items.
He said: “We are here to sympathize with you and to show you that the NDDC cares about your welfare and well-being. We have donated some palliatives made of food and non-food items to cushion the effect of the ocean surge on you. We have also brought some medical personnel to meet your health needs.”
He added that the intervention was in phases and that the NDDC would also look into the possibility of completing the shore protection project awarded in 2006 but abandoned by the previous contractor. He said the project was meant to prevent further erosion and devastation by the ocean surge.
He said: “We are not here to make promises but to take action. We will do everything within our power to ensure that this project is completed and that your community is protected from future occurrences of ocean surges. We will also work with other relevant agencies and authorities to find a lasting solution to this problem.”
He urged the community leaders and residents to cooperate with the NDDC and its contractors and ensure the project was executed without any hitch. He also advised them to take precautionary measures and avoid building too close to the shoreline.
The Secretary of the Aiyetoro Youths Congress, Mr. Emmanuel Aralu, who received the NDDC delegation and the relief materials, expressed appreciation for the gesture and commended Ogunmola for his swift response. He said successive governments and oil companies operating in their area had neglected the community for too long.
He said: “We are grateful for this visit, and we hope this is the beginning of a new dawn for our community. We have suffered for over 20 years from climate change and oil exploration activities, which have eroded more than half of our land and rendered many people homeless and jobless.”
He appealed to Ogunmola to expedite action on the shore protection project and urged other stakeholders to aid and protect their lives and livelihoods.
Aiyetoro, also known as ‘Happy City,’ was established in 1947 and is situated along the Atlantic coast in the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. It used to be one of the most prosperous riverine settlements in the country due to its thriving fish trade and political and social framework that guaranteed equality and a sense of belonging for all indigenes.