From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has carpeted the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, for not doing enough to protect the interest of the Niger Delta region in the N621.2 billion road projects to be undertaken across the country by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The IYC in a statement signed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by its President, Peter Igbifa, said the youths would not rest until Sylva took expected steps to remedy the injustice done to the region in the distribution of the 21 road projects.
‘We find it unbelievable that a Minister, who hails from the most marginalised region and whose state, Bayelsa, lacks reasonable federal presence despite its sacrifice to the Nigerian project, would be missing at a meeting where the NNPC, which is under his ministry took a decision to share road projects at the detriment of the Niger Delta,’ Igbifa stated.
‘As we speak, Sylva does not have a road to his Okpoma community in Brass Local Government Area of the state. The joint efforts between the Bayelsa State Government and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to take a road to Brass only ended in Nembe.
‘The section between Nembe to Brass, the Local Government Area of Sylva, would have been included in the NNPC project if Sylva had been alive to his duties as a minister. There are other roads in Bayelsa, Rivers, Ondo, Edo and other States of the Niger Delta, that should have been included in the project list.
‘The inequality, injustice and inequity that characterised this project distribution give eloquent credence to allegations that Sylva and other ministers from our region do not have the interest of the Niger Delta at heart.’
The youths reminded the minister that the NNPC owed its existence to the Niger Delta, insisting that the Corporation could not undertake such projects without paying adequate attention to a ‘region it has almost rendered uninhabitable…’
‘We consider the action of Sylva as a dereliction of duty, betrayal of trust and display of irresponsibility unbecoming of a minister in his capacity. We will continue to feel this way until he races down to the region to prove us wrong.
‘We are hereby asking Sylva to return to the region immediately and explain to us in a town hall meeting while he slumbered when others shared our commonwealth. We also use the opportunity to call on NNPC to adjust the project list in the interest of peace, justice and equity,’ Igbifa stated.