Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide yesterday maintained that the organisation had discovered a grand plan by certain forces in the presidency to hijack the recent opening in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the exclusion of qualified persons of Ijaw descent.
Briefing journalists yesterday in Yenagoa, Secretary-General of the IYC, Alfred Kemepado, who was flanked by members of the executive council, told journalists that the group was in possession of unassailable information that a list had already been released by the so-called cabal, despite the recent nationwide tests conducted by the NNPC.
He added that following the training received within and outside the country sponsored by the Presidential Amnesty Office and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the federal government has no excuse for insisting that the people of the Niger Delta were hardly qualified for such jobs.
“Recently, you may have discovered that NNPC made a publication for qualified people to apply for various positions in the corporation, and applications were made around the nation. As Ijaw, who are qualified and competent, most of our people also applied to be given those jobs.
“But the sad information reaching us is that a cabal in the presidency has hijacked the process of recruitment, and that our people are being sidelined which we find very offensive for many reasons.
“One of the reasons is that we cannot continue to dwell in a country where they come around the Niger Delta area, especially in the Ijaw territory, drill the oil, take it to sustain Nigeria and leave us here in the Niger Delta region with the associated diseases such as Leukemia and the degraded environment,” the IYC
The youth body maintained that it was unacceptable that while the Ijaw people who should get the lion share of the available vacancies in the corporation have been left in the lurch, while people who do not know how a barrel of crude oil looks like have been smuggled into the list of beneficiaries.
It said: “As you can see, when there is opportunity for employment, our people are always sidelined, marginalised and not considered at all. We find that very offensive and it is not something we want to tolerate.
“Recently, we also heard that there is a new group managing director of the NNPC, we congratulate him, and we also want to call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidency and the new GMD to look into this issue and ensure that the Ijaw people who applied for those positions, who we know are qualified for these positions should be considered and not to be sidelined by one list from the presidency.”
According to IYC, “If that really happens, we will take it as an insult from the inception of this government. We have been provoked many times. The last time the presidency came to this Niger Delta region, they promised us that companies will relocate to the region, but we did not see that.”
Kemepado noted that the IYC was also aware of a planned restructuring of the NNPC, and warned against leaving out persons of Ijaw descent who work within and outside the organisation.
“Ordinarily, it is not wrong for us to say that in employments like these, our people, the qualified people should be given the right of first refusal, as the Amnesty office, scholarship from NDDC, scholarship from government like Bayelsa State and other related training programmes have trained Ijaw sons and daughters, they are qualified with local and foreign certificates.
“So, nobody can doubt the competence of the Ijaw people. The country should not continue to provoke this region as the Ijaw youth council in conjunction with the elders has done our bit to keep the peace in this region,” it said.In his comment, Chairman of IYC, Central Zone, Kennedy Olorogun, who spoke in the same vein, noted that the federal government would only ignore the Ijaw people to its own detriment.
“You cannot be taking oil from our place and when opportunities come, we are not engaged. As a council, we have decided to toe the line of peace; we know the extent we can go, we don’t want to be provoked.
“We are ready to support the federal government in anything it does to help our region, and it should not play politics with our jobs. Ijaw people should be engaged and we want to know the number of our people that were taken,” he said.