…present 12-point demands before the presidency
By Adeola Badru
THE Izon youths of Iduwini Kingdom in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State under the aegis of Iduwini Youth Leadership Forum (IDYLF), have called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to speedily address the looming crisis in the oils and gas sector in the area for a smooth operation.
They, however, stated their readiness to join the massive disruption of oil production if the Iduwini People were not carried along in the ongoing reallocation of marginal oil fields among other cogent demands.
The National Coordinator of the forum, Comrade Akin Edisemi Disi, who is also the President, Odimodi Youth Movement, in a 12-point affirmatory/solidarity communiqué, made available to Sunday Vanguard, via an e-mail, lamented the continued silence of the Federal Government over the ultimatum earlier given by the Gbaramatu-Itsekiri Kingdoms jointly, where they threatened to shut down oil and gas operations in protest of the continued marginalisation by both the Federal Government and the multinational oil companies against members of their various communities as regards employment, infrastructures and other myriad issues.
He disclosed that the kingdom played host to many pipelines, manifolds, co-host to the Forcados Terminal, Forcardos Crude Export Pipeline and Crude Loading Platform, Beniboye Oil Field, Express Petroleum’s Oil Field, Britaina-U operated Ajapa Marginal Field, Forcados Effluent Water Disposal Line, Trans-Ramos Trunkline, Agip drilled and cocked wells, Ofou Pipeline, Trans Forcados Pipelineplay operated by various oil and gas companies.
According to Comrade Akin: “We are constrained to quote verbatim, what the youth and leaders of our sister Gbaramatu-Itsekiri kingdoms, with a little addendum. But like our sister kingdoms stated already, “We are tired of waiting endlessly for the government and shall fully partake in any shutdown or disruption of oil production at the expiration of the ultimatum as already issued.”
On the marginalisation of host communities, the communiqué stated that: “The successive governments, federal and state, and particularly the current administration shockingly abandoned the rebuilding/preservation of the Ancient Forcados Town, a very viable tourist attraction, being the first town harnessed by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the Multi-Billion Dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project, GRIP, and Deep-Sea Port” in the area which has the “prospect to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs as well as boost economic diversification.”
It also reaffirmed the incident of 26 January “where millions of dead and rotten fishes surfaced on the waterways” in the area with no Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) till date “despite repeated letters written to both the government and all relevant agencies and for which reason the President of Odimodi Youth Movement visited the Senate for a Public Hearing.”
“In addition, the abandonment of the “age-long Ego-Ide/Ogulagha Road, Garegolor/Ogulagha Road, The Niger Delta Coastal Highway initiated by the Goodluck Jonathan Government, Omadino-Escravos Road expected to connect the oil and gas-rich coastal communities” and “the Koko-Ogheye road” in the area.”
Other issues vetted by the Iduwini Kingdom Youths includes but not limited to; large scale shore protection/sand-filling projects in Itsekiri riverine/oil-producing communities and Gbaramatu Kingdom, the apparent aberration of the Local Content Act as it affects direct employment opportunities into government and non-government organisations, gross marginalisation of Ijaw and Itsekiri sons and daughters in oil marginal fields’ bid offers, lack of health care facilities, zero federal presence, no approval for capacity building through government’s intervention programme such as the 2015 ANCHOR BORROWERS PROGRAM to support local entrepreneurs interested in owning marginal fields and modular refinery, continuous neglect of Izon and Itsekiris indigenes thereby aggravating crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, the lack of electricity to light up communities while gas is piped to provide electricity to the East, West, North, and other parts of Nigeria amongst other myriad issues like pollution, poor sanitary conditions, total absence of potable water, and the likes as earlier put forward by their Gbaramatu/Itsekiri compatriots, worse than which are the exact situation in Iduwini Kingdom, Delta and Bayelsa States.
Moreover, the group, in what they regarded as sheer insensitivity of the government to develop the region that lays the golden egg by building massive road networks from Akure, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port-Harcourt, Uyo and Calabar to the Coastal Communities and Oil Installations in the Niger Delta, objected to the 614km long Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) natural gas pipeline meant to convey 3,500 million metric standard cubic feet (MMSCF/D) per day of dehydrated wet gas through a 40-inches diameter pipeline to the Northern part of the country, Morocco, the United Kingdom, etcetera which is the same amount of wet gas intended for the GRIP, a move they say is the “continuous exportation of our natural gas without adding value to them.”
On the AKK they said: “While we are in total support of the AKK, we say the GRIP-EPZ must be continued or we will be constrained to join our Gbaramatu and Itsekiri brothers to disrupt any attempt to continue with the AKK” while stating further that “as we have shown, the Federal Government owes a debt of gratitude to us and a duty that can only begin to be repaid by fulfilling its commitments and obligations to the Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities.”
The Gbaramatu Ijaws and the members of MDIOGPC in the communiqué went ahead to list the following joint demands while, adding that: “We eagerly await speedy action on these as the clock ticks closer to our joint ultimatum, to avert a fresh crisis in the Oil and Gas Industry.”
(1a) The Federal Government should order the immediate resumption of work at the Multi-Billion Dollar Gas Revolution Industrial Park Project, GRIP and the Deep-Sea Port in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State.
(1b) In addendum to (1a), the Federal Government should order immediate construction of a Modular Refinery within the bounds of Iduwini Kingdom, Burutu Local Government Area, Delta State as we have a large expanse of land, free of charge with a security guarantee.
(1c) Education is very key to human and societal development. We, therefore, call on the Federal Government to immediately order the establishment of Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas, Odimodi as the location is central to hundreds of communities within and outside Delta State.
(2a) We are calling on the Federal Government to immediately halt the current process of bids for the 57 Marginal Fields whereby the doctrine of necessity should be invoked and applied to incorporate the interest of competent companies owned by Gbaramatu indigenes as well as Itsekiri Sons and Daughters from oil and gas producing communities given “right of first refusal” on marginal fields in our homelands, before being thrown open to outsiders.
(2b) As lucidly stated in (2a) above, we are calling on the Federal Government to immediately halt the current process of bids for the 57 Marginal Fields and incorporate the interest of competent companies owned by sons and daughters of Iduwini communities given “right of first refusal” on marginal fields in our homelands, before being thrown open to outsiders.
(3a) If competent companies owned by indigenes of Itsekiri oil/gas communities and Gbaramatu people are not considered by DPR for the 57 Marginal Fields with immediate effect, we will be constrained to shut-down operations of the multi-national oil and gas companies (IOCs) operating in our homelands.
(3b) As in (3a) above, if competent companies owned by indigenes of Iduwini Kingdom are not considered by DPR for the 57 Marginal Fields with immediate effect, we will be constrained to shut-down operations of the multi-national oil and gas companies (IOCs) operating in our homelands, as all our ancestor’s gravesites, existing homes and territorial waters form part the said oil blocks and marginal fields, whether currently producing or not yet producing.
(4) The Federal Government should direct the relevant MDAs/IOCs to embark on large scale shore protection/sand-filling projects in Izon and Itsekiri Oil/Gas Producing Communities, including those of Iduwini Kingdom.
(5a) The Federal Government should institute a process for the facilitation of the abandoned age-long Omadino-Escravos Road and the Koko/Ogheye Road Projects, which have remained a mere campaign tool for successive administrations, despite their strategic importance to the socio-economic development of Delta State and the South-Western part of Nigeria.
(5b) We demand that the Federal and Delta State Governments should call to a round table all IOCs, NDDC, DESOPADEC, NGOs, etc., to ensure the completion of the age-long abandoned Egbo-Ide/Ogulagha Road and the Gbaregolor/Ogulagha Road Projects, which have remained a mere campaign tool for successive Federal and State administrations, despite their strategic importance to the socio-economic development of Delta State and the Niger Delta.
(6a) The urgent and immediate relocation of the Floating Dock/Ship Building Yard to enhance capacity building for students at the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko as was earlier envisaged.
(6b) The urgent and immediate building of the Delta State College of Marine Technology, Burutu, to enhance capacity building for students as was earlier envisaged in like manner by the Delta State Government.
(7) We demand an immediate and comprehensive investigation into what led to millions of dead and rotten fishes that surfaced on the waterways and fish-traps in the Iduwini Kingdom and other coastal zone and Itsekiri communities, with a view to carrying out the necessary remediation, and adequate compensation paid to those who have suffered loss or damages.
(8) We strongly demand that the President Buhari-led Federal Government should direct the IOCs working in our land to revoke and apply the LOCAL CONTENT ACT in their employment regime with emphasis on employing as direct staff, 60% of their total workforce.
(9a) In tandem to the call on the Federal Government to instruct Nigerian Port Authority through the Ministry of Transportation to dredge the Escravos Bar-Mouth, we call for the immediate rebuilding of the Warri, Koko, Burutu and Sapele ports in Delta State.
(9b) We also call on the Delta State Government to immediately rebuilding of the Delta Timber Industry Burutu and Sapele.
(10a) While in full support of the demand for immediate constitution of a substantive NDDC board instead of the present interim committee who lavishly wasted our derivation money on Covid-19 without recourse to the communities that should have the larger chunk of the accrued money to the commission, and whose interests are capitally inimical to the development of all Oil/Gas Producing Communities and the Izon Nation and the Iduwini Kingdom, Delta State in particular.
(10b) We demand the total restructuring of the Niger Delta Ministry and the NDDC to have sub-boards at each community level who manages the annual accruals to the community.
(11) In like manner, we demand the total restructuring of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) by the Delta State Government, to have sub-boards at each community level who receives and manages the annual accruals to the community.
(12) We call on Governor Okowa to immediately reach an agreement with Iduwini and Diebiri Kingdoms, for an indigene of their Kingdoms to occupy the Izon Commissioner and Executive Director Offices in the next DESOPADEC Board,” the communiqué added.