President of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Barrister Pereotubo Oweilaemi, has warned the Federal Government to redress the lopsidedness that characterised issuance of licence for operation of modular refineries in the country, or face the wrath of their gods and disruption of operations by people of the region, reports Osazuwa Ikponmwosa from Warri.
Angered by the recent rejection of devolution of power to the states, President of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) said they are disappointed in the senate.
“It is appalling. We’re talking of how authority can be brought down to the people, but the senate voted against the idea. That’s wrong. The Ijaw nation will take it up against the senate at the appropriate time.
We must redesign Nigeria
“At the moment, the country, as well as the Ijaw nation, is passing through trying moments. It’s as a result of this that my people have deemed it appropriate that I should be the one to pilot the affairs of Ijaw youths for the next three years. We are talking about a lot of things, one of which is the issue of restructuring.
“We are tired of this jamboree country called Nigeria. Let us sit down and redesign this country as if we are redesigning a house. What I am saying is that there is need for us to sit down and discuss this country called Nigeria.
“By this, we are talking about restructuring. Let us restructure this country. We are equal stakeholders. If we must continue as one, then we must sit down and discuss. If we’re saying that we cannot sit down and discuss, then we are merely postponing the evil day.”
The Barrister faulted the amalgamation packaged by the British. “As of the time this country was put together, our people were not properly informed. We were just called for a meeting and told ‘this is what we want you to do.’ That’s the problem that we have been facing. But now, we are saying enough is enough. People must sit down and discuss, otherwise, we should go our separate ways devoid of rancour. All we will need to do is to manage our God given resources and pay a little percentage of the revenue derived from the resources to the government at the centre; that is how it should be.”
On the voices of dissent from different groups and regions, Oweilaemi pointed out that any group can make a case for its advancement. “As of today, the Ijaw nation has decided to ask for restructuring. We’re part of this country called Nigeria. But our concern is that we must sit down and redesign and unbundle the country by putting round pegs in round holes.
“We (the Niger Delta region) cannot be producing oil and all of us are poor. We are talking about modular refineries. Licences have been issued but people from the Niger Delta, particularly of Ijaw extraction are not given licences to operate – and you expect us to fold our arms and watch?
“We have given the Federal Government warning that this will not happen the way it happened on the issue of allocation of oil blocs in the past. Over 50 years ago, oil blocs were allocated to people and nobody from the Niger Delta region benefitted. Till date the situation still stands.
“Now, we are talking of modular refineries and the same game is playing out. We’re saying that we will resist that with our last blood. If we’re not part and parcel of the processes of the issuance of modular refineries licences, anybody (Nigerian or foreigner) who is not from the Niger Delta region but is given licence to operate a modular refinery in our territory we will rise and truncate the process.”
The youth leader then vowed that they will use all means to correct the sour situation. “We will invoke the wrath of our gods to correct the imbalance; we must be part of it and until we’re part of it, there will be no peace in Nigeria. Let it be known that I am emphasising that we’ll fight this imbalance with our last blood. That’s what we have decided – and there is no going back.”
On the fallout of acting President Osinbajo’s tour of the Niger Delta region early in the year, Oweilaemi said two key issues cropped up during Osinbajo’s visit:
“Two key issues cropped up during the acting President’s tour of the Niger Delta particularly in the Gbaramatu kingdom, a prominent area of Ijaw land in Delta State. He directed that in the next academic session, the Nigeria Maritime University in Okerenkoko should take-off (that should be around September or October), but as we speak, we’re not seeing enough work on ground to show that the university will take-off. We expect that the government will do everything necessary to ensure that the university takes off. That university is important to the Ijaw people and indeed, all people of the Niger Delta region and Nigerians as a whole.”
He reminded the FG that this is a federal university and not an institution that only the Ijaw people will benefit from.
“Anybody from any part of the world can be employed as a staff of the university or admitted as a student. The institution is sited in Ijaw community and we are duty bound to protect it and make the environment conducive. We’re therefore urging the Federal Government to make sure that it takes off at the right time.”
The second matter Professor Osinbajo talked about is that of International Oil Companies (IOCs) which operate in the Niger Delta region but have their head offices in Lagos.
“What that means is that they pay their tax to the Lagos State government. Lagos State has the highest Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the history of Nigeria but it doesn’t produce oil. The states in the Niger Delta region that produce oil have lower IGR compared to what Lagos has.
“That is unacceptable. The IYC has given 90 days ultimatum to IOCs with effect from 12th of July, that if they don’t adhere to the directive of the acting President, we will stop them from doing business in our territory. We will do this by invoking the gods of our land to do the spiritual, and we of the region will do the physical. That’s a promise,” he warned.