By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”Ijaw in the diaspora, under the auspices of Ijaw Foundation, have described as unacceptable the Petroleum Industry Bill and Federal Governmentâ€™s plan to establish a University of Petroleum in Kaduna State .
President of the group, Dr. Ebipamone Nanakumo, who spoke to Vanguard from his United States base, accused the Federal Government of further aggravating tension in the troubled region and called for the immediate reversal of the said obnoxious and unacceptable policies and plans of the Nigerian government.
He said:Â â€œWe demand and insist that the Petroleum University must not be built in Kaduna but instead, the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Warri, should be upgraded to a Petroleum University, as had been planned by the preceding Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
â€œWe also demand that the headquarters of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) must not be sited in Abuja but in Bayelsa State .â€
According to him, â€œthe announcement by the President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua administration last Wednesday, July 22, 2009, made by the Petroleum Minister, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, to reverse the upgrading of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Warri to a Petroleum University and instead build a Petroleum University in Kaduna at the cost of N14.5 billion, is a brazen and unacceptable assault on the dignity and welfare of the ever-ruthlessly oppressed, plundered, abused and impoverished people of the oil producing Niger Delta.
â€œIt is not gainsaying the fact that it does not make any sense economically to site the Petroleum University in Kaduna in view of the enormous expenses needed to regularly transport faculty staff and students from Kaduna in the far north to the oil wells and oil facilities exclusively in the Niger Delta, in the southernmost part of the country, to conduct research.â€
â€œIt is the height of insincerity and hypocrisy for the Nigerian government, which is wooing the Niger Delta freedom fighters with amnesty to resolve the Niger Delta crisis, to simultaneously enact and implement policies that will further rob Niger Deltans of their rights and dignity, and ipso facto, alienate them and stoke the Niger Delta Crisis!
â€œThis is yet another example of the federal governmentâ€™s lack of commitment to justice and peace in the Niger Delta.â€
The Ijaw in the diaspora, while rejecting the current Petroleum Industry Bill, called for a new bill that would grant and allocate at least 50 percent of all oil prospecting licences and oil blocs to Niger Delta business interests and Niger Delta state governments, local government councils and communities.
â€œWe urge the Yarâ€™Adua administration to stop all policies and actions that are inimical to national cohesion and survival of Nigeria ,â€ the group said, warning that such selfishness and sectionalism were inimical to national cohesion and could spell doom for Nigeria as a nation-state.