By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Political and traditional leaders in Bayelsa State yesterday argued that the growing unemployment and general frustration in the Niger Delta region are partly responsible for the resurgence of armed agitations in the region.
In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari over the rising incidences of piracy, oil and gas pipelines attacks and other crimes, the elders noted that fighting unemployment would substantially reduce anger in the oil-rich area.
Specifically, the elders and traditional heads from Bayelsa East senatorial district, noted in the letter that the permanent solution to ending the criminalities in the area was to ensure the take-off of the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas Project (Brass LNG).
They noted that though the local and state governments have tried in their own ways to provide employment, initiate security and peace along the waterways, the delay in the take-off of the project has left many youths jobless, restive and involved in the renewed violence in the region.
The letter signed by Chief Newton Ayibatare and others, stated that when fully established, the gas project would employ over 16,000 restive youths and improve revenue to the local councils, state and federal governments.
“We have watched with keen interest the recent development in the oil and gas sector and the renewed violence along the creeks, including militancy in the region.
“We condemn the series of attacks on pipelines and the people of the state by pirates and militants in Bayelsa state. We commend the state and federal governments for actions taken so far.
“While we agree that there should be dialogue, the need to engage the youths with gainful employment is critical,” they argued.
In the state, the elders noted the need to speed up the commencement of the Brass LNG saying it was critical to supporting any form of dialogue between new militants and the federal government.
“The federal government should prevail on Brass LNG to commence work and absorb over 16,000 youths in the council. The people of the area have condemned and called on the members of the renegade militant groups to embrace dialogue.
“While we urge the youths of Bayelsa to desist from piracy and kidnapping, the practical solution to restiveness in the state and other Niger Delta states is economic empowerment and engagement,’’ the elders noted.