Apparently worried by continuous neglect of the people from the Niger Delta region, youths from the
areas have attributed the resurgence of militant activities in the Niger Delta to the failure of the federal
government to implement some of the sustainable developmental agenda of the late President Yar’Adua’s administration in 2009.
The youths argued that the insecurity of lives and property caused by the rapid militarisation of the area and the failure of apprehending, and charging to court herdsmen involved in the deliberate killings of indigenous landowners in the Southern part of Nigeria was not healthy for a country that claimed to be practising federalism.
In a statement issued by the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and the Niger Delta Peace Initiatives, in collaboration with Niger Delta Youth Association, at the end of their meeting in Kemp House, London, and made available to our correspondent in Yenagoa via e-mail, the youths also observed that the continuous existence of obnoxious laws that deprive people the right to their own property and livelihood was causing more division in the country.
According to the leaders of the group, Comrade Udengs Eradiri, President, Ijaw Youth Council (World Wide), Annah Tonbara Buseri, President, Niger Delta Peace Initiative, and Comrade Victor James,
President, Niger Delta Youth Association (worldwide), there was a direct link between the security forces, oil bunkering and insecurity in the Niger Delta.
The statement read in part: “The extreme presence of the security forces is exacerbating insecurity and criminal activity in the Niger Delta as persons connected officially to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), oil companies and private business concerns through the protection afforded to them by the same security forces are responsible for the large percentage of oil theft in the Niger Delta. It is in their interest that insecurity reigns in the Niger Delta, as it affords them the necessary cover to continue their stealing.
“Again, the targeting of former agitators who were peaceful and doing their own private business, is a form of political persecution and state-sponsored vendetta. There is a return to overt marginalisation
and continuous under-development of the Niger Delta area by the Federal Government and its agencies despite the fact that the Niger Delta still contributes the bulk of its abundance natural resources and revenues to finance the same Government and its agencies, even the state and local governments.
“This manifested recently as the non-inclusion of a Bayelsa State indigene in ambassadorial appointments despite having qualified professionals; the exclusive nature of political appointees that is imbalance in favour of Northern Nigeria, and the imbalance in the security structure (involving the security agencies) in favour of Northern Nigeria, manifested recently in the mass retirement of mostly
South South and South East officers of the armed forces of Nigeria, instead of implementing the Federal Character principle and equal opportunity.”
The youths, therefore, stated that the Federal Government should take immediate steps to re-engage, involve and include the Niger Delta people in the oil and gas business at all levels, recommending that an affirmative action programme should be implemented to address this problem, while stressing a need for the Federal Government to empower the local oil bearing communities within the framework of ownership of resources as such would ensure the security of oil/gas
industry infrastructure in the area.
While calling on the Federal Government to genuinely empower the Nigerian Navy to protect the territorial waters of Nigeria and arrest all illegal shipments of oil and not use the armed forces to intimidate and oppress the people of the Niger Delta, they also want the Federal Government to collate and immediately implement all past recommendations and reports on the development of the Niger Delta area, even as they called for the release of all withheld funds designed for the development of the area.
The statement also urged the Federal Government to show further commitment to the development of the Niger Delta by increasing the funding of development of the Niger Delta through the Niger Delta Development Commission/Amnesty Programme and Niger Delta Ministry, pointing out that the best forum for achieving lasting peace and stability in Nigeria was through the convening of Sovereign National Conference.