Ijaw youths, under the auspices of Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, have tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on economic plan for the people of the Niger Delta.
They said they were not against the President’s moves to curb oil-related theft in the region, but advised Buhari to do the needful before deploying soldiers in the region.
President, IYC, Udengs Eradiri, who spoke at a news conference in Yenagoa on Thursday after an expanded meeting of executives of the body, urged Buhari to go after the big guns stealing oil in large quantities.
He also said as part of the measures to empower the people of the Niger Delta, the President should order redundant vessels and those yet to berth in Lagos to ports in Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar to spring up business activities in the region.
He commended the President for his well articulated speech on the Niger Delta during his visit to the United States, but said such a speech would not achieve the desired result if the people were not empowered.
Eradiri said, “We want to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for his trip abroad. During which, he was able to articulate issues concerning Nigeria’s policies especially the Niger Delta. We must commend him for the way he addressed the world about Nigeria. Truly, he is the pride of Nigeria.
“But while addressing the world, he raised certain issues which we need to make inputs: He talked about the oil theft in the Niger Delta, which we support fully, his approach towards curbing the menace because the stealing of oil is actually degrading our environment.
“Also, the development is actually a crime against humanity when people carry out certain actions that in the long run they destroy the people’s land and their way of life.
“But we must say that this oil theft did not start today. It is the attitude of successive governments that have led to our people struggling to survive. We want him to go after the big guns – those merchants who bring in big vessels to steal oil. They are the people he should go after.
“We are not against the stoppage of vandalism of oil pipelines but he must have an economic plan.
“Our people right now need to survive. There is no more fishing in our areas and our lands can no longer produce the kind of things they used to produce. It is our position that while Buhari is coming to fight the menace, he must come with an economic plan.
“We are saying that all those vessels in Lagos doing nothing, waiting to berth should be ordered to the ports in Warri, Port Harcourt and Calabar. By so doing, a lot of economic activities would begin to spring up in these areas and support the local economies.”
He also lamented that many oil-related projects in the region had been abandoned by the Federal Government, insisting that there should be a clear-cut programme by the government in expanding the ports.
He contended that such programmes were fantastic baits and alternatives to engage the people while the government went ahead to clear out oil thieves in the region.
“We will support the government only when there is a clear cut economic plan that will serve as an alternative for the people,” he stated.
He, however, said he was disappointed in the President for commending the US government for the successful general elections in the country instead of giving the credit to former President Goodluck Jonathan who made the process to work.
He said Jonathan ensured that the political process in the country worked by instituting free, fair and credible electoral process.
“Buhari should give credit to Jonathan for making the process work. We fault the President by commending the US instead of giving credit to Jonathan. Jonathan swallowed pride and made sacrifice to ensure peace and unity of Nigeria,” Eradiri said.
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