ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Umbrella body of Ijaw youths, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, has declared President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, persona non grata.
The council boasted that the President and Sylva would no longer be welcomed to the region over their roles in the passage and signing of the Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB) into law.
The group said that despite the fact that the duo have the constitutional rights to move to any parts of the country, their movement into the states of the Niger Delta would be greeted with boos and jeers, no thanks to their alleged disregard for the plight and outcry of the people of the region over the years.
The IYC had earlier on Tuesday rejected the signing of the PIB by Buhari, saying that the President’s assent was a total affront to the people of the region who expressed anger over the three per cent provision for the oil producing communities.
National Spokesman for IYC, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, said in a statement issued in Yenagoa on Thursday that the decision of the people not to welcome Buhari and Sylva to the region was a further show of their decline in the ratings of the people.
It urged them not to expect any accolades and congratulatory messages from the region.
Ekerefe insisted that the best course of action to have been taken by the President was to send the Bill back to the National Assembly for upward review of the three per cent equity share to host communities whose environment had suffered decades of oil exploration activities by the oil majors.
He said a substantial percentage to the host communities would have helped to address the age long criminality, noting that until that was done, there was nothing to celebrate in the region.
On Sylva’s stand on the three per cent, Ekerefe described the explanation as an afterthought.
He said what the minister should have done as an illustrious son of the soil was to apologise and appeal to the consciences of the people, rather than justifying an act which was politically tailored to favour the North and its allies in the industry.
Ekerefe noted that it was a rape on justice and equity for the National Assembly to pass three per cent equity share to the host communities while passing 30% to frontier basins which in their view is grossly inadequate and against the unanimous 10% agreement by stakeholders for HoSTCOM when the National Assembly visited the region.
He stated: “With the amount of speed the President used in signing the PIB without resolute stand by stakeholders from the region, the president has further demonstrated that the opinions of the Niger Delta people don’t matter in his government as we have ve witnessed in other areas that requires urgent attention of his government.
“In the light of the forgoing, there’s no better time for the people of the Niger Delta region to intensify the struggle for resource control and self determination.
“We believe strongly that that will be the only sure path upon which our God-given natural resources can be managed by us, and not this impunity we have witnessed from a repressive federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari.”