The leadership of the umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), has stated the reasons for the renewed agitations and threats to the peace pact between the Nigerian government and the people of the region.
The group said the threats of renewed violence by militant groups and attacks against oil facilities are caused by the failures of the Nigerian government to address contentious issues of development and empowerment of the region.
According to IYC, the threats of renewed agitations may snowball into violence and attacks if the proposed 2.5 percent to host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is not changed to provide a 10 percent equity share to host communities in the region.
It noted that it should also note the amendment to the new policy by the Presidential Amnesty Programme which provides that ex-militant youths must take the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination before becoming a beneficiary to study in a Nigerian university and the refusal of the Nigerian government to allow capable professionals from the region to participate in the bidding for licences to own oil blocs in the region.
The IYC, in a statement issued on Wednesday by its National Spokesman, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, said the refusal of the Nigerian government to allow the host communities and people of the region to equitably participate in the ownership and exploration activities of the crude in the region is igniting anger and tension in the region.
Ekerefe, while calling on the attention of the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill without any further delay, stated that the youth from the nine states of the region commended the National Assembly for their frantic efforts to douse the rising anger ignited by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led executive by having the Petroleum Industry Law come on stream.
He said, “The 8th National Assembly had done well, if not for President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the bill into law on inexplicable grounds. We believe strongly that if it was a bill that would benefit the North, it would’ve been attended to with the speed of light. However, now that the 9th National Assembly is pursuing this proposed PIB with renewed vigour, we wish to urge them to expeditiously pass it in recognition of the wishes of the Niger Delta states and the host communities in particular”
“For the sake of clarity, Ijaw youths will not accept any equity shareholding less than 10 percent to the host communities as demanded by our people. If this is done, it will bring lasting peace to the region”.
Regarding the new policy of the Presidential Amnesty Programme on Education, the IYC declared that though the efforts of the Interim Administrator of the Programme, Col. Milland Dikio is commendable.”
He commended Dikio but added that “stakeholders should be carried along in the decision-making process”.
“This is because, no matter how good a policy could be, it’ll be resented if people do not buy into it.
“The controversy surrounding the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board intake as a precondition for admission into various universities is a pointer to the aforementioned,” he said.
He also called on the judiciary to play its part in the efforts to calm frayed nerves in the region by presiding fairly over the suit filed by some professionals and businessmen from the region against the Nigerian government over their exclusion from participating in the bidding for oil licences in the region.
He said, ”Though the suit against the Federal Government is before a competent court and we are aware of moves to frustrate the case before the Federal High Court in Yenagoa, we have confidence in courts and we urge the judiciary to take a careful look at the case and give a landmark verdict that will assist in furthering peace in the region. A situation where non-Niger Delta people are exclusively favoured to own oil licences and oil blocs in the Niger Delta is totally unacceptable and this contributes significantly to renewed agitations.”