By Sylvester Idowu
An Itsekiri group, The Niger Delta Advocacy Initiative (NDAI) has called on the federal government to urgently convene a meeting with stakeholders over the bidding process for the 57 marginal oil fields to forestall the growing tension in the Niger Delta region.
President of NDAI, Comrade Esimaje Awani made the call yesterday in Warri during a peaceful protest by youths of Itsekiri nation against alleged marginalisation of Isoko, Ijaw and Itsekiri in the ongoing bidding process by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The group threatened to join their elders and leaders in shutting down oil and gas activities in their areas if the Federal Government refuses to heed to its cries for “fairness and justice”.
It would be recalled that Gbaramatu Ijaw and Itsekiri oil and gas producing communities had last Sunday vowed to follow through the threat to shut down operations in their areas, following expiration of an ultimatum to the Federal Government.
Esimaje noted that the call for a stakeholders meeting with the Federal Government was borne out of the desire of the group to seek an amicable resolution of the grievances of the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Isoko oil and gas producing communities in the region.
“Evidently, the issues being raised are genuine and we believe it is of utmost importance that there should be a stakeholders meeting in which the concerned authorities will amicably dialogue with leaders of the groups and relevant stakeholders to listen to all complaints and possibly chart a course to address same so as to bring down the brooding fire which appears to be growing consequently by the day”, he said.
Esimaje suggested that the proposed meeting should include the Minister of Niger Delta, Minister of State for Petroleum, NNPC Group Managing Director, DG NOSDRA, DG NIMASA, MD Nigerian Ports Authority, Director, DPR, IOCs and affected community leaders/stakeholders.
While awaiting urgent response by the Federal Government to avoid negative action capable of crippling the oil and gas industries in the region, the President of NDAI noted that the grievances of the people were genuine and must be tackled with tact.
He demanded that the Federal Government should immediately suspend the ongoing process of bids for the 57 marginal fields and invoke the doctrine of necessity and sincerely integrate the interest of competent companies owned by Niger Deltans, mostly from the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Isoko extractions.
“If competent companies owned by Niger Deltans, mostly Itsekiris, Ijaw and Isoko oil and gas producing communities are not considered by DPR for the 57 Marginal Fields with immediate effect, we will be constrained to shut down operations of the multinational oil and gas companies (IOCs) operating in our homeland” he threatened.
Esimaje also called on Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, order immediate resumption of work at the multi-billion dollars Gas Revolution Industrial Park project (GRIP) and the Deep Seaport in Warri South West Local Government area of Delta State.