By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, yesterday called on the Federal Government to replicate its plan to compel operators in the oil and gas companies to send funds to Internally Displaced Persons in the North East and the Niger Delta region.
IYC, the umbrella body of all youths of Ijaw descent, said it was unthinkable that while the Niger Delta which directly feels the impact of the exploitation of oil in their region was left in the cold, the government was forcing oil companies to pump such huge funds to the north.
A national newspaper had reported on Thursday that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) had directed operators in the petroleum industry to contribute at least $100million annually to the IDPs Intervention Fund for the people of the North East.
But in a statement signed by the Spokesman of the IYC, Daniel Dasimaka, Ijaw youths argued that while they were not opposed to the development of any region, it was only fair that the government direct the oil companies to contribute more to the development of the region which is most negatively impacted by their activities.
“Although the north east is a victim of its own destruction, Ijaws have nothing against any plans to help Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and to develop the region.
“However, we find it quite traumatic that the government and its agencies that have never considered for over 60 years to instruct the oil companies devastating our land to develop the Niger Delta are today instructing oil companies to contribute to the North East which was destroyed by its own home-grown terrorism.
“This same government has at the same time remained mute about the development of the Niger Delta where the oil companies get the resources that are being directed to the north east. It is a known historical truth that the Niger Delta has suffered far worse than the IDPs in the North East,” the group said.
The IYC called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport, and the heads of all relevant agencies overseeing the oil and gas as well as maritime industries to instruct all operators in these sectors to quickly mobilise funds to the impoverished region.
“Although, we are aware that the NNPC/NAPIMS directive is another wealth transfer scheme, given that the Federal Government will share in the contributions based on its equity stake in the joint venture (JV) operations, we are calling on the Federal Government to also compel the oil companies to extend such intervention to settle and rehabilitate the IDPs in many Ijaw communities.
“These communities have been devastated by reprisal attacks from the Nigerian military and the people of Bakassi, who are Nigeria’s first IDPs as well as IDPs in the Middle Belt who have been displaced by the Fulani herdsmen menace.
“As the Federal Government is planning to transfer our oil wealth to develop the North East, it should also do well to spend more in the Niger Delta in order to maintain the peace which is always threatened by responses to marginalisation,” IYC added.
The youths also said they were still awaiting the presidency to enforce its directive to oil companies to relocate their operational headquarters in the country to the region.