Violent Agitation Won’t End Unless Nigeria Begins To Practice True Federalism, IYC warns

Leading Ijaw youth organization, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide,  has warned that violent agitation in the country will not stop until President Muhammadu Buhari puts machinery in place for the relevant constitutional amendment to ensure the practice of true federalism or he immediately starts to implement the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference.

The IYC  insisted that the only solution to intermittent crisis in the Niger Delta region, which has  led to a resurgence in attacks on  oil installations by militant groups, is for the Buhari-led government to address the resource control and ownership question.

IYC’s position  was contained in a communique signed by its President, Comrade Udengs Eradiri,  and spokesman,  Eric Omare,  at  a one-day stakeholders’ conference to mark the end of the month-long activities in honour of Major Jasper Adaka Boro, the spiritual figure of Niger Delta resistance. The event  had as theme ” The Ideals of Isaac Boro and the Renewed Militancy in the Niger Delta: The Way Forward.”

The IYC  observed that the renewed militancy in the region was caused by the same issues that sparked the late Boro’s struggles, which cumulated in  the 12-day revolution in the 1960s.

The group noted that while  the 2009 Presidential Amnesty Programme brought temporary peace to the Niger Delta region,  the crucial issues of resource control and true federalism, the basis for the agitation, were not addressed after the cessation of hostilities.

Among others things, the IYC observed  that steps so far  taken by the Buhari administration have undermined the interest of the Niger Delta region. These, said the IYC, include  the removal of the 10% community development equity share from the Petroleum Industry Bill.

IYC, in its resolutions, emphasized that the attempt by the federal government to award pipeline surveillance contracts to ex-militants will end attacks on oil facilities. It maintained that  once issue of resource ownership and control is addressed,  people in communities with oil pipelines and facilities will feel an obligation to protect what is their communities.

It, however, added that the award of surveillance contracts, which it said is  a palliative measure, should be given to contractors where such facilities are located and they should be held liable for any breach of contract.

The conference criticized the All Progressives Congress-led federal government for politicizing the issues affecting the region instead of dealing with the stakeholders on how to resolve the already delicate situation.

It urged President Buhari to stop treating the Niger Delta region as a conquered territory, emphasizing its belief in a united Nigeria where every part of the country would be treated  equally, irrespective of their contribution to his electoral victory.

The group frowned at the speculated cancellation of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko in  Delta State,  which it said was one of the conditions for ex-agitators to accept amnesty in 2009.

The conference condemned Buhari’s silence on the issue of the Maritime University, despite protests. It urged the federal government to calm nerves of stakeholders in the region by directing the already constituted university governing council to commence academic activities without delay.

The communique also noted that the conference resolved that the renewed militancy in the region is partly an indication of failings in the amnesty programme and therefore called on the federal government to review the programme to address all the issues affecting the successful implementation of the programme.

IYC also vowed to resist any attempt to single out former President Goodluck Jonathan for arrest and humiliation over allegations of corruption. It urged Buhari to accord Jonathan the same respect accorded other former presidents or probe all former presidents, including Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalam Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo.

The conference maintained that  Buhari’s anti-corruption war is not selective, the evidence of which is his failure to  probe of the Halliburton scandal.