By Emma Amaize, South-South Editor
YENAGOA- A Coalition of youths under the auspices of the 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience and 19 agitating groups in Niger Delta have taken their massive sensitization campaign tagged ‘Operation Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, not guns must count’ in February 16 elections to riverine communities across the states of the region.
The two-week campaign, which saw the agitators hold town hold meetings with opinion leaders, community leaders and critical stakeholders in the creeks was rounded off, yesterday, (Sunday) at Ekeni/Ezetu communities in Southern Ijaw local government area, Bayelsa state, where amnesty was first accepted in 2006 by a foremost ex-militant leader, Ebikobowei Victor Ben, aka Boyloaf.
Leader of the 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta, self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, who led the sensitization campaign, told Vanguard, “Niger Delta youths refused to be branded corrupt, lazy, criminals and militants. That is why we have all agreed to work closely with the International Community, foreign observers, security agencies, INEC staff and community leaders to ensure that it is our PVCs, not guns that count in the forthcoming elections.”
“Gen” Ebi said some politicians were threatening bloodshed if the elections did not go their way, adding, “Such action is capable of creating acrimony and supremacy tussle in the Niger Delta. We, therefore, want to echo our voices loud and sound it to the North, East, Southwest, Middle Belt and the Niger Delta that the time is now to take back our future with our PVCs, not guns, our PVCs must count.”
He asserted, “In our two- week tour of riverine communities in the Niger Delta on a massive sensitization campaign and town hall meetings with community leaders on why our PVCs must count, not guns, we have all come to realize in our interactions that the Niger Delta belongs to all of us.”
“We all feel the brunt of the polluted air, degraded farmlands, polluted waters, unemployment, insecurity and the most recent threat to our liberty as a people. We have heard in the past that the youths are the future of tomorrow and we all agree that the time is now or never.
“In this final historic gathering today (yesterday), we have all agreed that the future of the Niger Delta is paramount. Our rights to liberty, choice and freedom are sacrosanct.
“We cannot imagine how our youths that are economically impoverished and branded lazy can develop a technology to refine our crude oil into diesel, petrol, kerosene, and politicians that indulge in fraudulent importation of refined products and criminally enriching their cronies with what they call subsidy.
“Besides, they fail to develop the Niger Delta youths in their creative thinking of developing a technology to refine our crude and in all these, the government is adamant, full of fake promises, politicking with the ideology of mental slavery,” he noted.
His words, “Niger Delta has been grossly marginalized as a people, deprived by the evil in resource control and its communities. This evil has now outlived its time and we, as youths in the region, are determined to end the reign in Nigeria via the process of electing a credible human faced leader.”
Oftentimes, they reduced the Niger Delta agitation to militancy and destruction. The real aim of the agitation ideologically as it remains has come under negative assertions and interpretations by the evil in power and their media machines.
“Now, the time to change the negative narrative has come and this is the season for us as youths to bring to bear the core of our movement and agitation in the choice of candidates during the election of Saturday, February 16.
“This call to all the youths in the Niger Delta is to ensure we bring down once and for all the evil of mental slavery through the instrumentality of our PVCs and defend our votes in the region massively.
“Our agitation through the PVC is going to be bloodless and would take away the lives of our oppressors and their cohorts. We are aware of the merchants in the region who could again offer inducement to entice and sway the youths. This time, we as a people must say to everyone that comes with the enticement of money and sweet words that we are not for sale and neither ready to be used as elements of rigging, destruction of election and voters’ intimidation.
“We know they will come to you as a youth, but please when they come, tell them to bring their children to lead the fight and fire the first shot. Therefore, we are sending this message to all the youths in the region and to Nigerians that we are all at a crossroad and we must define our future now.
“We must secure our freedom from our taskmasters, the evil oppressors. We must use our votes to destroy them without shedding blood, but ensure that they lose gallantly and woefully. With our large population of over 10 million votes in the Niger Delta alone and the high percentage of youths, we are determined to vote massively for one man with a heart for Nigeria and one that truly is not of the evil cabal.
“So we are calling on all to dislodge completely these evil forces because none is a lesser of the other, they soiled us dry, they allocate our oil wells to themselves and their cronies, they give their girlfriends licenses. They have been in power since independence, they are corrupt and can declare themselves free of corruption, depending on which side is in power.
“They are stuck and we cannot see them go on with this their evil again. We, therefore, call on the military to be neutral, eschew partisanship and display high moral value of professionalism and patriotism.
He stated, “We shall expose those political buccaneers that feast and smile to the bank by instigating and causing violence. We are beginning to see some indices that portend danger for a free, fair, credible and acceptable election in the Niger Delta.”
“We, therefore, call on the International Community: USA, United Kingdom, European Union, African Union, Federal Government, Senate President, Minister of Interior, DG, DSS and IG, NPF to immediately invite these personalities that had made unguided and violent threats towards the upcoming elections of February 16, 2019.
“First is Henry Odili, a chieftain of the APC, he must be questioned for his comment that if APC is not on the ballot, there will be no election in Rivers State; that they would cause violence and burn INEC offices.
“Secondly, Senator Godswill Akpabio must also be held responsible if anything goes wrong in Akwa Ibom for his comment that he is going to invade Akwa Ibom the way Hitler invaded Poland.
“We also want the new MD of the NDDC Professor Nelson Bram Baifa for his partisan comment, forgetting that as the MD of the NDDC, an interventionist agency, he is supposed to be neutral and concentrate on developing the Niger Delta, rather he is making unguarded statements of partisanship that Niger Delta youths should vote Buhari.
“We also fault the Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Program, Professor Charles Dokubo, for deviating from the core objective of reintegrating the amnesty beneficiaries into the mainstream of society and equipping them to be entrepreneurs and employers of labour, and busying himself with politics of ex militants endorsing Buhari,” he said.