Angered by the swift signing of the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has warned the President not to step his feet in any Niger Delta land until he leaves office in 2023.
The council also issued the same threat to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, declaring that they are no longer welcomed in the Niger Delta region.
The youth on today, Thursday, August 19, 2021 said Sylva, by his role on the signing of the Bill into Law, did show that he is an Ijaw man
In a statement today in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the Ijaw youths, observed that though the president and the minister had the constitutional right to move to any part of the country, they should henceforth stay away from the region.
The statement was signed by the national spokesman for the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe.
He said, “Their (Buhari and Sylva) movement into the six states of the Niger Delta will be welcomed with boos and disgraceful jeers due to their show of disregard to the plights and cry of the people of the region over the years,” he said.
Ekerefe argued that the decision not to welcome Buhari and Sylva in the region was a further condemnation of the disregard they had demonstrated towards the people, and should not expect accolades and congratulatory messages from the region.
He added that the presidential assent given to the bill was an affront to the people who had rejected the three per cent for oil host communities and demanded 10 per cent canvassed during the public hearings on the PIB.
Ekerefe in the statement further maintained that the president should have sent the bill back to the National Assembly for upward review of the three per cent equity share to host communities whose environments had been destroyed by oil exploration activities.
The Ijaw spokesman described the explanations of Sylva as “an afterthought”, stressing that as a son of the Niger Delta he should have apologized and appeal to the people rather than justifying the Petroleum Industry Act which was politically tailored to favour the north and its allies in the oil and gas industry.
According to him, it was a rape of justice and equity for the National Assembly to approve a grossly inadequate three per cent as against the 10 per cent stakeholders agreed upon, and 30 per cent for the Frontier Basins when the National Assembly Joint Committee visited the area.
The youth declared, “With the amount of speed the president used in signing the PIB without recourse to the position of stakeholders from the region, the president has further demonstrated that the opinions of the Niger Delta people don’t matter in his government as we’ve witnessed in other areas that require urgent attention of his government.
“In the light of the forgoing, there’s no better time for the people of the Niger Delta region to intensify the struggle for resource control and self-determination.
“We believe strongly that, that will be the only sure path upon which our God-giving natural resources can be managed by us, and not this impunity we’ve witnessed from a repressive Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.