…Blames decision on FG’s insincerity, neglect of N’Delta
… Warns against disregard for militants’ threats
By Michael Eboh
Leaders of oil-bearing communities, under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria, Producing Oil and Gas, HOSCON,Tuesday, said they have pulled out of the ceasefire agreement and peace accord entered into with youths and militants in the Niger Delta.
This is coming on the heels of a threat by militant groups from nine states of the Niger Delta region, which vowed to resume hostilities, in support of the EndSARS protests and neglect of the region by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
The militants had also given multinational oil companies operating in the region an ultimatum to evacuate their staff to avoid human causalities.
The latest ceasefire agreement and peace accord were entered into with the militants in 2016, after several months of hostilities by the militants, which destroyed oil facilities, disrupted Nigeria’s oil production and contributed to pushing the economy into recession. The ceasefire brought peace to the region and buoyed Nigeria’s crude oil output.
In an interview with Vanguard in Abuja, National Chairman of HOSCON, Prince Mike Emuh, disclosed that the lives of HOSCON leaders were under threat, as four years after the ceasefire deal, majority of the agreement reached with the Federal Government on behalf of the militants were yet to be fulfilled.
However, he called on the youths of the Niger Delta to give peace a chance, stating that the leadership of HOSCON was meeting with some officials and aides of Buhari on how to assuage the militants and map out ways on how to avert the impending crisis.
He said, “We the leaders of HOSCON want to hands off the ceasefire, the peace accord that we entered into with the youths of the Niger Delta. This is because it is now a threat to us their parents, as it is now seen that we are not allowing them to strike; yet they are not getting jobs and are not getting anything from the crude oil and gas exploited from their communities.
“They say we have always been pleading with them not to resume hostilities, yet, there are no results from the assurances they had been given that made them to embrace the peace and ceasefire accord in the first instance. Our lives are being threatened; hence, we are resigning from mediating, either in the Amnesty programme, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, or Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.”
He said the Federal Government had approved the four-point agenda put forward by HOSCON, yet, nothing had been done in the area of implementation of these agreement, especially, as it seems that the deal had been jettisoned.
“The South-South geo-political zone is today, totally neglected in the area of agricultural interventions, while other regions of the country had been given billions.
“We want to meet with delegates of the Federal Government to let them know that danger is lurking; hence we are calling on the government to make haste and engage, and meet the demands of the oil-bearing communities,” Emuh explained.
To avert the impending hostilities, he stated that the government should immediately meet the demands of the militants, especially the ones similar to the demands HOSCON had presented to the Federal Government.
Some of the demands, according to him, which comprises the four-point demand of HOSCON, include, the release of the gas flare penalty money to the host communities; release of the 13 per cent derivation allocation directly to the oil-producing communities; award of the pipeline surveillance contracts to 10,000 youths in the host communities and waivers for 10 modular refineries license for the host communities.
He stated that years after the four-point agenda was presented to the Federal Government, nothing had been done, while he cautioned the government against politicizing the demands of the region’s youths and the militant.
The HOSCON chairman said: “It is paramount that the Federal Government should dialogue with oil-producing communities. The issue of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK, gas pipeline, traversing majority of the northern states; where are they bringing the gas from? Is it from Borno? Is it not from Niger Delta states? Yet, those states and the communities where the oil and gas are produced from are neglected.
“The region accounts for about 95 per cent of Nigeria’s revenue; yet, we are neglected and have no say in decision-making in this country.”