Twenty-two years after an open pipeline in Jesse, Delta State exploded in an inferno that raged for five days and killed over a thousand people, a newly crowned Ovie (king) of Idjerhe Kingdom, HRM Monday Obukohwo Whiskey Udurhie 1, is pushing for Federal Government interventions for the people of Jesse Community.
Jesse, second largest oil producing Kingdom in Delta had a bitter tale from the fire disaster which claimed over 1000 lives precisely on October 18, 1998.
The monarch who assumed the throne almost two years after the former traditional ruler, HRM Edward Igho Otadaferua, Erhiekevwe 1, joined his ancestors in 2018 and was presented with a state of office in a colorful ceremony held at Idjerhe primary school, by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, lamented that the Kingdom had been neglected by the federal government as the only federal structure that was to be sited had long been abandoned.
The Idjerhe monarch who spoke shortly after he was handed the staff by Governor Okowa who was represented by his deputy, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro, lamented that the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had commenced building a hospital in the area, but abandoned it following alleged failure of PPMC to pay the contractor 15 years ago.
He said that the Jesse people had waited too long for the completion of the hospital, adding that the kingdom was in dire need of higher institutions, standard health facility and skill acquisition centre.
“Idjerhe Kingdom is far behind in development because we have been neglected for several years. A kingdom with many primary schools and eight secondary schools has no single higher institution where the children can further their education.
“Jesse town, with over 20,000 people, has no standard health centre. Till date, what we have here is the old maternity for children. We contribute a lot to the nation’s economy and Idjerhe Kingdom deserves better attention from the Federal Government,” he stated.
The monarch however called on the state and federal governments to site a research and degree-awarding institution in the kingdom in honour and commemoration of the October 18, 1998 pipeline explosion which claimed hundreds of lives in the kingdom.
He also explained that the Idjerhe Kingdom was ready to reconcile aggrieved persons in the events leading to his being crowned the new king, adding that he would pursue peace and stability in Idjerhe Kingdom during his reign for which he would soon set up some committees to mend fences.
The monarch, a veteran journalist by profession who had spent over three decades in active journalism practice and was the South-South Regional Editor of National Daily Newspaper before ascending the throne, however urged youths to shun any act of restiveness and cultism in communities saying that his approach to combing social vices would be consultative and community based.