Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Several youth leaders from the Niger Delta wednesday met in Bayelsa State, demanding the immediate setting up of a federal governments team to negotiate with leaders from the region on the 16-point demand presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Pan-Niger Delta Forum on November 1.
The youth presidents from most of the ethnic nationalities in the region wondered why a month after the meeting of the region’s elders and leaders with the president, not a word has come from the presidency on what it intended to do with the request, going forward.
Led by Mr. Udengs Eradiri, President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Worldwide (IYC), the youths also called on President Buhari to muster the political will to deal with the crisis, which they argued had claimed several casualties in the region.
In a communiqué released after the meeting which held at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa, the youth leaders urged the federal government to activate the sea ports in the region, resolve all the legal issues surrounding the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State and release funding for all interventionist agencies in the region.
Aside Eradiri, who presided over the deliberations, some other youth leaders present were Mr. Anthony Ovie, President General, Urhobo Progress Union Youth wing; Esimaje Awani, President, Itsekiri National Youth Council; Terry Obieh, Urhobo Youth Council President and Eric Oluwole, Yoruba Youth Council.
Others were Capt Bassey Henshaw , Efik National Youth President; Matthew Dighi, National Youth Council of Ogoni People; Okoduwa Aluya, National President, Edo Youth leaders Council, Imoh Okiko, Ibibio Youth Council and Benjamin Onwubolu, Ndokwa National Youth President.
Also present were Okey Churchill, President Ikwere Youth Council, Damige Harry (Kalabari Youth Foundation, among others.
Eradiri, who read the communique on behalf of his colleagues, further called on the federal government to immediately halt the invasion of the Niger Delta by the military.
“Today, we are meeting because of issues that border on the welfare of the Niger Delta people. Uppermost is the political dimension to what is happening in the region, which led us to an eight point agenda.
“Arising from the meeting on the first of November between the federal government and Niger Delta leaders, we urge the federal government to quickly set up its negotiating team to quickly resolve the crisis in the region.
“The whole world is waiting for the President to do the needful. As it stands, the knife and the yam are with the federal government and we urge President Buhari to cut the yam accordingly. Let him set up the team so that the crisis can be resolved,” the youth leaders resolved.
They added:, “We urge the President to stop the invasion of Niger Delta communities. There are better ways of resolving criminal activities in the region. The intelligence apparatus has even recorded more success than the military that has been invading communities.
“If you find out, the casualties in Delta State, they are women, children and the very old, but above it all, the political will and approach of government will better resolve these issues.”
Eradiri said the conference also, “ resolved that government should quickly resolve all the legal issues surrounding the maritime university so that we can stop excuses of youths vandalising facilities on the excuse that it is because of the issues over the school,”
The youth leaders also berated governors from the Niger Delta for not doing enough to lift the people of the region out of poverty, noting that there was currently no plan for the youths by the governors.
According to the leaders, “The condition in the Niger Delta is getting out of hand. Our youths are unemployed,” adding that “It is time for the governors to show leadership: economic, political and in terms of development so that we start from there.”
They called for the revamping of the Export Processing Zone in Delta, the Brass Fertiliser Project in Bayelsa, the Bonny train seven project in Rivers and the Quantum project in Akwa Ibom State.
“Seaports in the Niger Delta must be activated. Ports in the Niger Delta are fallow and there are over 5,000 vessels waiting for berthing in Lagos. If a vessel gets to a port thousands of jobs are created,” the youths argued.