Ijaw youths under the auspices of the Youth Council (IYC) have condemned the signing of the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, declaring that he was no longer welcomed in the Niger Delta.
The IYC also warned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva not to step his foot on the region following his role in the passage of the PIB and the subsequent presidential assent giving to it by Buhari.
The council made the declaration in a statement issued on Thursday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, by the national spokesman for the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe.
Ekerefe noted that though the president and the minister had the constitutional right to move to any part of the country, they should henceforth stay away from the region.
“Their (Buhari and Sylva) movement into the six states of the Niger Delta will be welcomed with boos and disgraceful jeers due to their show of disregard to the plights and cries of the people of the region over the years,” he said.
Ekerefe said the decision not to welcome Buhari and Sylva in the region was a further condemnation of the disregard they had demonstrated towards the people, and should not expect accolades and congratulatory messages from the region.
According to him, the presidential assent given to the bill was an affront to the people who had rejected the three per cent for oil host communities and demanded 10 per cent canvassed during the public hearings on the PIB.
He said the president should have sent the bill back to the National Assembly for upward review of the three per cent equity share to host communities whose environments had been destroyed by oil exploration activities.
Ekerefe described the explanations of Sylva as “an afterthought”, stressing that as a son of the Niger Delta he should have apologized and appeal to the people rather than justifying the Petroleum Industry Act which was politically tailored to favour the north and its allies in the oil and gas industry.
He said it was a rape of justice and equity for the National Assembly to approve a grossly inadequate three per cent as against the 10 per cent stakeholders agreed upon, and 30 per cent for the Frontier Basins when the National Assembly Joint Committee visited the area.
The IYC said, “With the amount of speed the president used in signing the PIB without recourse to the position of stakeholders from the region, the president has further demonstrated that the opinions of the Niger Delta people don’t matter in his government as we’ve witnessed in other areas that require urgent attention of his government.
“In the light of the foregoing, there’s no better time for the people of the Niger Delta region to intensify the struggle for resource control and self-determination.
“We believe strongly that, that will be the only sure path upon which our God-giving natural resources can be managed by us and not this impunity we’ve witnessed from a repressive Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari.”