By Emma Amaize – Yenagoa
A militant group, 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience, has said that some fishermen affected by massive pollution of rivers and lands, which has made the fishing business no longer lucrative at several riverine communities in the oil-rich region were turning their fish farms to crude oil bunkering camps, as a means of survival.
Leader of the militant assembly, self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, in an electronic mail to Vanguard, said the group found among others that most of the affected fishermen lost their fishes because of the oil spill by bunkers and burning of impounded crude oil by security agents, who empty the harmful content into the river.
“The last aspect of our findings also reveals that the non-inclusion of host communities in the oil industry is also a very strong reason for people to have access to set up crude oil bunkering camps ( kpo fire in the local parlance), rather than setting up camps for fishing activities.
“Even the fishing camps are now converting to kpo fire camps since the rivers and lands are polluted and as a result, the fishing business is no longer sustainable for survival,” he disclosed.
His words: “Our findings into the root cause of the endless oil bunkering in the Niger Delta area as follows- poverty, the Joint Task Force JTF, and non-inclusion of host communities in the oil industry are major contributors.”
“The Joint Task Force JTF and highly- placed Nigerians that are into the oil industry are the real cause and beneficiaries of the oil bunkering in the Niger Delta. Our findings further reveal that the JTF and some corrupt navy officers give clearance to the oil bunkers to bring in their vessels in the night to load and turn around to victimize the impoverished youths of the Niger Delta.
“It is hardship and poverty that motivated these youths to critically think and develop their technology to refine crude oil even better then NNPC and other multinational oil companies. It is a real and proven fact that the local diesel refined by the youths of the Niger is better than the one refined outside and imported into the country.
“Therefore, we call on the Minister of Petroleum, Minister of Niger Delta and other distinguished personalities from the region vested with the responsibility of presiding and taking decisions concerning the oil sector and the development of the Niger Delta to do the needful by retraining these youths and ensuring the establishment of the modular refineries.
“We further appeal to them to think inwards and create the enabling environment for our youths to excel in the oil sector. They should tap into the outstanding discovery of our own technology to contribute to the oil sector and immediately start the building of the modular refineries and training of the Niger Delta youths to create jobs and stop the importation of refined crude to defraud the nation in the name of subsidy,” Ebi said.
“The host communities should be fully integrated into the oil industry and be given surveillance jobs and you will see oil bunkering vanish. There will be no need for JTF to mount surveillance on critical oil infrastructure in their land once you make the host communities an integral part of the oil business.”
“At this juncture, we want to state it was the 16point agenda agreed upon with the Pan Niger Delta, PANDEF, which led to the declaration of the ceasefire, which brought us out of recession and the agenda has to be fully implemented to achieve the needed peace and development in the region,” he added.