From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) has assured President Muhammad Buhari and the Defence Headquarters that youths of the region have no plans to protest, destabilise and disrupt the existing peace in the Niger Delta.
The group spoke against the backdrop of a warning by the Defence Headquarters against breach of peace in the region.
In a statement by its national spokesman, Ebilade Ekerefe, the group said though the position presented by Ijaw youths after the signing of the PIB Buhari is expressive enough, it did not mean the region would be thrown into crisis and destabilised.
Ekerefe said the Defence Headquarters rather than being reactionary should advise President Buhari to dialogue with youths of Niger Delta on the PIA.
He said youths in the region were angry over the speedy manner the president signed the controversial PIA despite outright rejection from stakeholders in the region and refusal of the administration to listen to their calls on various issues, including request to set up a substantive board for the NDDC.
“The Defence Headquarters should adopt a visionary status of advising the Buhari administration on these contentious issues that may lead to breach of peace and security, rather than being reactionary and issuing threats. The youths are not planning to engage in any protest march or engage in fresh hostilities to destabilise the existing peace in the region we have contributed so hard to sustain.
“For the information of the defence headquarters, Ijaw Youths are more matured and disposed to robust intellectual engagements on issues. However, the military authorities should understand that the Niger Delta youths would not allow the region fall into the plot to destroy communities like they did in the past.
“Instead of outrightly encouraging continued dialogue between the region and President Buhari’s administration, the military is busy issuing statement of threats against a region that has kept faith with peace despite the insurmountable security challenges in the North-East, Benue and Kaduna states. The only way out is for the youths to continue to demand for town hall meetings with the Petroleum Resources Minister and explain why the agreed 10 per cent was reduced to a meagre three per cent. Our people deserve to know and until that process is initiated, we won’t go back on our earlier stand.”