A pan-Ijaw professional group, the Ijaw Professionals Association, Homeland chapter, has urged the Ijaw nation to realise that the Federal Government is not committed to developing the Niger Delta “to our taste”.
The group said that the only primary sources of development to the region are the revenue allocations that accrue to Ijaw land.
The IPA, therefore, called on stakeholders of Ijaw ethnic nationality to demand transparency and accountability from state and local governments in Ijaw land while seeking the same from the Federal Government.
In a communique issued after its meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital on Friday, the group said it was high time charity began at home.
Present at the meeting were Iniruo Wills, IPA Homeland President and former Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment; Alaere Raine, Vice President; Meg Agidee, Treasurer; and Abiye Nyanabo, Assistant Secretary, among other stakeholders.
IPA said, “Ijaw nation must localize its agitation and cause local governments and states to become transparent and accountable to the people, simultaneously with (if not before) seeking the same from the Federal Government. Charity begins at home.”
The group stressed that funds accruing to the region must be strategically and properly applied to the present and future needs of the people “while we continue to press the Federal Government and other stakeholders for the maximum due from them to us”.
The group stated, “Ijaw nation will direct its legal and social enforcement actions towards the preservation of the environment.
“This will be done by dealing with NNPC (who holds about 60 per cent stake on behalf of the Federal Government in the oil and gas blocks seized in Ijaw territory) and the regulators such as the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Environment, Department of Petroleum Resources, among others, with respect to gas flaring and pollution of the environment.
“We will also engage the anti-graft agencies to account for the number of convictions as it concerns pipeline vandalism and the diversion of funds meant for host communities from the international oil companies.
“Ijaw nation must demand from local governments and states in the region and the intervention agencies to consult the communities and ethnic groups (needs assessment) before budgets are proposed.”
IPA posited that a virile local government system would bring development speedily to the localities, stressing that the Ijaw nation must lead the charge to remove local governments from the grip of state governors.
It added, “State and local governments in Ijaw land should settle all unpaid salaries and urgently put an end to the strange and unacceptable practice of owing workers’ salaries.
“A historical account of all borrowings, their utilisation and their repayments (bonds, bank loans, etc) by respective state governments in Ijaw land from 1999 till date should be publicly provided.”