How Warri an Economic Hub was brought to its Knees by Community Leaders

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WARRI was a big industrial hub in the 70’s – 90’s.

Warri Refinery, NNPC, DSC , Delta glass, Shell, Chevron, Schlumberger, Dunlop, Agip, Saipem, Halliburton were in full operation back then. Escravos & Forcados was at its peak.

The city thrived, Maritime activities thrived. Multinational/Local Banks were present Citibank, FBN, ACB, Savannah Bank. Business activities thrived.

Entertainment/Night life was at its peak, Musicians, Live bands, Comedians held their sway, Majek Fashek, Emma Grey, Oritz Wiliki, Rex Lawson died on his way to Warri in 1971. The town was full of life and it thrived.

Mc Dermot road was busy with Maritime activities & contractors. Joma & Mosheshe were big fish distributors across the Niger Delta.

The town grew in size and had people coming from Ijebu Ode, Benin, Asaba, Imo, Anambra, Calabar to Settle down in Warri for economic activities.

The Airports were super busy, Escravos, Forcados & Warri Airport. The Warri Airports was even relocated to Osubi for expansion.

Warri was revelling in its glory, I almost forgot to mention, Warri Ports was fully operational & served as an economic booster for the city. It served businesses in Warri, Benin, Asaba & Onitsha. The Port created huge employment opportunities for locals & the state.

Things started to go downhill from the late 90’s. The community leaders & youth chairmen began to fight themselves over control/ sharing formula for royalties that came from oil & businesses from settlers. Itsekiri’s, Urhobo’s & Ijaw leaders & youths started fighting each other.

The bloody fight started around 1999 and lasted for years till 2003/2004 : the community leaders started imposing local taxes called “Deve” on all companies, industries and local businesses, buildings & projects.

Little by little, the companies frustrated, started leaving. This continued throughout the early 2000’s till 2010. The companies kept on leaving, one after the other. The companies layed off their employees. Unemployment rose. More companies left for PH, Lagos, Akwa Ibom. They layed off more staff. Unemployment increased still.

Today all that is left in Warri, is a shadow of its glorious past. 95% of all the big companies in Warri had either left or closed down.

Most of the young people have left Warri. The ones left are driving Keke, doing P.O.S, Spa or Boutique, Beer parlour or doing hookup.

There’s peace now, but the damage the greedy community leaders did to Warri, still lingers on and is almost irredeemable at this point.

 

 

 

By @EmekaObiora_