By Daniel Gumm, Emma Arubi & Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa â€” The Ijaw Youths Campaign for Peace (IYCP) condemned the decision of the governors of the South/South to pull out of the Federal Governmentâ€™s amnesty programme, alleging that their opposition was informed by the need to use their favoured militant groups to actualise their 2011 re-election bid.
The South-South governors had, last week met in Asaba, Delta State, and allegedly resolved to withdraw from the amnesty deal over complaints that the Federal Government wanted to set up a University of Petroleum Studies in Kaduna instead of the Niger-Delta which produces oil.
However in another meeting by Itsekiri National Youths Council (INYC) in Warri, lead byÂ National President of the Itsekiri youths body, Mr. David TonwetheÂ the INYC youths commended S-South govs’ stance. Also backing the governors are the opinion leaders.
In the IYCP’sÂ statement signed by its Public Information Officer, Pere Prince, the group said the governors of the region, rather than pull out of the amnesty programme, should exhaust all peaceful avenues, not to bring further sufferings to the already impoverished popula-tion of Niger Delta.
The statement read in part:Â Â â€œThe entire executive members of Ijaw Youths Campaign for Peace (IYCP), having consulted other peace-loving elders and youths in the Niger Delta, wishes to express shock at the position of our governors in pulling out of the the FG’s amnesty programme.
â€œThe big question to ask our governors is, why now? We think this decision is not going to help matters, especially at this period when we are clamouring, more than ever before, for peace and security in this our region.â€
â€œWe believe the decision does not represent the position of all our brothers because of the consequences it may incur to our innocent brothers and sisters in the long run.Â Â Why tie-up issues of development to the promotion of insecurity?
â€œWe are afraid that these our brothers in the corridors of power who ought to have spoken long ago, but failed to do so because of obvious reasons, have something to fall back on abroad in an event of complete break down of law and order.
â€œTheir kith and kins, their families, are all living safely in sanctuaries abroad. Therefore, let the amnesty fail and the chaotic situation continues and innocent and expendable poor souls perish; this does not prick their conscience.
â€œIt has additionally been confirmed by the IYCP that the position of the governors is tied down to their nefarious election bid come 2011 through their favoured militant groups.â€
The group called on people of the region to wake up from their slumber and be forthcoming in telling their leaders the truth, as this was not the right time if they were true leaders.
â€œIf what they are saying is anything to go by, this confirms our freedom fighter, General Boyloafâ€™s statement that our leaders in the region are the ones instigating militants not to accept amnesty and this is a total betrayal because there is no where a group of people can bear arms illegally and be condoned.
â€œTherefore, our respected leaders should think again and reappraise the consequences of such decision for the interest of our region,â€ it stated.
The group, however, called on the federal government to translate its promises to a more concrete development in order to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of the region.
Itsekiri youths commend S-South govs’ stance
THE governors of the South-South states of the country have been called upon not to allow themselves be swayed from their new chosen path of â€œhonour, integrity, courage and pro-peoplesâ€™ stance as encapsulated in their recent threat to withdraw from the amnesty programme,â€ put in place by the government of President Yarâ€™Adua.
Speaking to newsmen in Warri after an emergency central committee meeting of the Itsekiri National Youths Council (INYC) in Warri, weekend, National President of the Itsekiri youths body, Mr. David Tonwe, said for the first time in recent history of the people of the region, â€œthe governors of the states of the region have, for once, united to take the collective destiny of the oil-producing region in their hands, thereby beginning a process towards achieving true humanity and control of their natural resources for the marginalised and insulted oil-bearing ethnic nations of the region.â€
Tonwe said the relish, contempt and arrogance with which the â€œoil-rich region is being treated has in recent times assumed such depth that the slavery relationships which the people of the region have historically been subjected to has become embarrassingly and grueso-mely exacerbated and intolera-ble.â€
The Itsekiri youth leader appealed to the governors not to fail to include in the agenda the nagging issue of resource control, which in the view of the Itsekiri group â€œremains the sole panacea to the resolution of the crisis of the region,â€ emphasising that the issue of development at the expense of a proper resolution of the issue of ownership and control of the oil resources would be a serious mistake.
On the new Petroleum Industry Bill, Tonwe noted that it was just a clever way by the present regime to â€œcivilianise all existing obnoxious and provocative petroleum laws put in place by the different military regimes; all of which have dispossessed the people of the region control of oil.â€
He said that the group has met with the representative of the Warri Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives to do everything possible to get the draft Bill modified so as to vest ownership and control of the oil resources on the host ethnic group.
Opinion leaders support S-South govs
TWO prominent sons of Niger Delta have called for more support for the decision by the South-South governors to pull out of Federal Government amnesty progra-mme for lack of a post-amnesty agenda.
Speaking to Vanguard in an exclusive interview in Sapele, weekend, Mr. Ben Tobi, a businessman and hotelier, called on the oil multinationals in the oil-bearing communities to hook up the peasant but oil rich host communities to their own electricity/water supply lines.
Speaking in the same vein, Ijaw opinion leader and marine merchant, Mr. Owen Nanakumor, called on all well-meaning people from the region to support the decision of the South-South governors to boycott further dealing in the amnesty package.
He cited the proposed Petroleum Industries Bill and the non-provision of post-amnesty programme by the FG as moves that should elicit opposition from any Niger Deltan.
He said the situation where oil companies operate and enjoy 24-hour uninterrupted electricity/water supply, but living side by side with their host communities in perpetual darkness and unhealthy drinking water without any recreational facilities amounted to wickedness that eventually elicit agitations from the communities.
According to Tobi, â€œthese companies provide power generating sets sometimes and leave the fueling to the communities, a situation which often creates problems that lead to internal wrangling and fighting amongst the people which the companies exploit to further divide and rule the people.â€
Nanakumor wondered why the old Petroleum Training Institute, PTI in Delta state that was upgraded to a university status by then Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo regime would be reversed to its former low status, while billions of naira from the bowels of the Niger Delta would be spent on another institute in far away Kaduna to provide management level cadre personnel for the oil industries.
He said such federal policies against the oil rich region were some of the agitations that led to militancy in the first place and cautioned the government against inciting the people to againÂ return to the trenches, stressing that the impact would very devastating should that be allowed to happen.
According to him, the federal government should have a rethink on all the issues canvassed by the South-South governors.
Tobi warned that utterances emanating from Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, who has always been in all government in the country, was most unfortunate and condemnable in its entirety, saying the people of the region should not be taken for granted any longer.