From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The leadership of the umbrella body of Ijaw Youths worldwide, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) has offered reasons for the renewed agitations and threats to the peace pact existing between the Federal Government and the people of the region.
According to the organisation, threats of renewed violence by militant groups and attacks against oil facilities are caused by the failures of the federal government to address contentious issues of development and empowerment of the region.
The IYC in a statement issued by the national spokesman, Mr Ebilade Ekerefe warned that threats of renewed agitations may snow ball into violence and attacks if the issues of the proposed 2.5 per cent to host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is not changed to provide 10 per cent equity share to host communities in the region.
Other issues he listed that should be resolved by the federal government include amendment to the new policy by the Presidential Amnesty Programme which provide that ex-militant youths will undergo a mandatory participation in the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination before becoming a beneficiary to study in Nigerian University and the refusal of the federal government to allow capable professionals from the region to participate in the bidding for licenses to own oil blocs in the region.
Ekerefe stated that the refusal of the federal government to allow the host communities and people of the region to equitably participate in the ownership and exploration activities of crude oil domiciled in the region is igniting rising serious anger in the region.
While calling the attention of the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill without any further delay, the IYC stated that the Youths 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 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 Federal Government over their exclusion from participating in the bidding for oil licenses in the region.
“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 clarity, Ijaw youths will not accept any equity shareholding less than 10 per cent to the host communities as demanded by our people. If this is done, it will bring lasting peace to the region,” Ekerefe.