The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) on Tuesday advised the federal government and its international allies to halt the probe of the Malabu oil deal, contending that it was another attempt to persecute the Niger Delta people.
IYC President Udengs Eradiri alleged that the probe of the Malabu oil block deal was a witch-hunt targeted at Chief Dan Etete. He lamented that Mr. Etete was being singled out while other oil blocks awarded under the same bid rounds were not being probed. Mr. Eradiri therefore urged the federal government to extend the probe to cover other oil blocks.
He also condemned the exclusion of the Niger Delta region from the recent oil lifting contracts awarded, adding that the region should be allowed to participate in the oil and gas sector in the interest of equity and fair play. Mr. Eradiri challenged the government to build a strategy aimed at stabilizing the Niger Delta region to produce enough oil to fund the 2017 budget.
The IYC president, speaking with journalists in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Tuesday, noted that due to delays in the Niger Delta peace process, the chances of meeting the projected oil production goals were slim. He said that the Niger Delta dialogue with the federal government had suffered setbacks following the delays in raising a federal government team for the talks.
“The Niger Delta region does not expect the present administration to solve the Niger Delta problems, which have lingered for over 50 years, in one fell swoop overnight, but over the years, successive administrations devise strategies to ensure oil output to run the country,” Mr. Eradiri said.
“From all indications, and despite the hue and cry about economic diversification, the 2017 budget is premised on oil output and we urge the government to provide a roadmap to achieving the benchmark on paper. “The Obasanjo administration started coastal meetings, the late Musa Yaradua used the amnesty scheme to achieve stable oil production, and Goodluck Jonathan consolidated the amnesty scheme that is winding up.
“We want the present administration to come up with a plan to ensure steady oil output in the short term while efforts are made to address the developmental challenges of the people in the long run,” Mr. Eradiri said. He observed that the interventionist agencies set up to fast track development of the region were being deployed by previous governments for political patronages and settlements and pledged that the IYC would closely follow developments in the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Mr. Eradiri challenged the Niger Delta governors to tow the line of their predecessors and drive the development of the region from the proceeds of the derivation funds, adding that it was former governors of the region that laid the groundwork for the amnesty program. He noted that the Niger Delta region was in dire need of economic policies to put the region on the track of development.