By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Foremost Ijaw youth organisation, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), has said the only solution to the intermittent crisis in the Niger Delta region, leading to massive bombings of oil installations by militant groups, is for the federal government to address the resource control and ownership question which has been the remote cause of crisis in the region.
The group warned that not until President Muhammadu Buhari put machineries in place for the relevant constitutional amendment to revert the country back to the practice of fiscal and true federalism or immediately begin the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 national conference, agitations including militancy in the Niger Delta region would never end.
IYC’s position was contained in a communique signed by its President, Comrade Udengs Eradiri and spokesman, Eric Omare, at the end of a one-day stakeholders’ conference to mark the end of the month-long activities in honour of Major Jasper Adaka Boro with the theme: ‘The Ideals of Isaac Boro and the Renewed Militancy in the Niger Delta: The Way Forward.’
The conference observed that the renewed militancy in the region is the same issues that gave birth to the Boro’s struggles which culminated into the 12 days revolution in the 1960s.
It held that whereas the Presidential Amnesty programme of 2009 brought temporary peace to the Niger Delta region, however, after the cessation of hostilities in the region, the crucial issues of resource control and true federalism which formed the basis for the agitation were not addressed.
It observed among others that most steps taken by the present administration were geared towards antagonising and undermining the interest of the region including the removal of the 10 per cent community development equity share from the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which it said contributed to the present hostilities in the region.
The IYC in its resolution, emphasised that the attempt by the federal government to award surveillance contracts to ex-militants would not solve the problem of attack on oil facilities, maintaining instead that once issue of resource ownership and control were addressed, communities and the people would naturally protect oil pipeline situated in their communities as critical stakeholders.
It however added that the award of surveillance contracts, which it saw as also a palliative measures should be for, community-chosen contractors which it insisted are to be held liable for any breach of contract.
The conference criticised the federal government for allegedly politicising the issues affecting the region, instead of dealing with the stakeholders on how to resolve the already delicate situation and urged government to start the process of genuine dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
It urged President Buhari to stop treating the Niger Delta region as a conquered territory, emphasising its believe in a united Nigeria where every part of the country would be treated as equal stakeholders on the basis of fairness, equity and justice.
The IYC further said President Buhari must treat every part of the country as his constituents and equal stakeholders irrespective of their contribution to his electoral victory.
The group however frowned at the alleged cancellation of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State, which it said formed one of the conditions for ex-agitators to accept amnesty in 2009 stressing that the purported cancellation of the institution was a breach of the terms of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
The communique also noted that the conference resolved that the renewed militancy in the region was partly an indication of failings in the amnesty programme and therefore called on the federal government to review the programme to address all the issues affecting the successful implementation of the programme.
the Ijaw group also vowed to resist any attempt to single out former President Goodluck Jonathan for arrest and humiliation over spurious allegations of corruption in the government’s anti-corruption fight and urged President Buhari to accord Jonathan the same respect accorded other former presidents.