By Kayode Matthew
WARRI â€” THE WarriÂ National Council has criticised the Federal Government over plans to build a N19 billion Petroleum Training Institute in Kaduna which neither bears nor yields one drop of crude oil.
Faulting the choice of Kaduna, the Council argued that â€œthe only thing there is the refinery which is fed with the crude oil pumped at enormous cost from the Niger Delta, leaving behind only the devastation for the Niger Deltans to live with (or die by)â€.
In a letter addressed to President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua ebtitled: â€œPlease bring about the needed changeâ€, the Warri National Council contended that â€œwhere there is no bias and injustice so deliberately contrived should it not have made more sense to site this project in the Niger Delta area where both the exploration and exploitation take place?
Where there is sincerity of purpose, justice, equity and fair play, should this not have been in the Niger Delta so that the people of the area would have easy access to be trained and feel the consolation that for their devastation, they have a greater stake and therefore greater benefit from the industry that otherwise had been a scourge to them?â€
The Council therefore called on the president â€œto openly demonstrate his sincerity about finally resolving the Niger Delta question by returning that institution to the Niger Delta. Not to do so will give discerning people the inevitable view that what created unrest informed the fashioning of the amnesty to put out the fire is still left to festerâ€.
The letter which was signed by Chairman of the Council, Chief B.O. Mene and Secretary, Chief C.D. Ikomi, further said, â€œwe all know that the crux in the Niger Delta issue is that of the frustration and the anger of the people of the Niger Delta caused by the perceived injustice which they have continued to suffer at the hands of successive governments, both military and civilian, especially at the federal level for many years.
â€œIt is that the country has continued to derive enormous financial wealth from the oil and gas exploited from this area and the major things that the people of the area are left with have been the devastation of their ecology, the destruction of their sources and means of livelihood and their being thus consigned to growing poverty and deprivation.â€
Other areas benefit, N-Delta suffers
According to the Council, â€œwhat has made it more irksome is that others who are not from this area, who therefore suffer no damage whatsoever from the exploration and exploitation enterprises are the ones who enjoy the benefits.
The scenario has been that the people of the Niger Delta which bear and yield the oil and gas are held down with government machinery and apparatus while others would keep feeding fat on the proceeds through their access to governance. Sometimes this is done so blatantly in way that taunts the people who suffer the brunt of the fallouts in the oil industryâ€.
Council challenges PTDF
The Council also challenged the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) to follow the line of the transparency and accountability of Yarâ€™Adua administration to publish the details of its activities from inception, showing who had been trained and their places of origin against the backdrop of allegations that the PTDF had trained far less Niger Deltans than others in a deliberate intent to favour others against them.
The Council then commended the President on his proclamation of Amnesty for the militants of the Niger Delta Area saying â€œthe gesture is commendable in the sense that the aim is to douse the embers of the hostilities in the area so that life can go on peacefully for all categories of people to go about their businessâ€.