Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has warned Northern youths not to provoke a crisis in the Niger Delta region, with unnecessary and misguided expressions and actions.
PANDEF’s statement is necessitated by reports that purported northern youths, under Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups, demanded the termination of a reported pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a son of the Niger Delta region, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (popularly known as Tompolo), during a protest at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited in Abuja.
PANDEF in a press statement on Wednesday signed by Hon. Ken Robinson its
National Publicity Secretary has cautioned that the reported threat by the Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups to paralyse activities at NNPC headquarters, if the said contract awarded to Government Ekpemupolo was not revoked is not only absurd and delusional but capable of sparking severe consequences in the Niger Delta region.
The statement reads, ‘We are sending a serious warning to those misguided Arewa youths and their sponsors. Let it be known to them that the Niger Delta people will not tolerate such absurdity.
“Tompolo, and indeed any other capable Son or Daughter of the Niger Delta, for that matter, has the right to be awarded any contract by, any agency or company, of the Federal Government, more so the NNPC Limited, whose core operations are carried out mainly in the Niger Delta region.
“Nigeria is reportedly losing billions of naira daily through organised, outrageous crude theft by criminals and corrupt officials, it, thus, won’t be inapposite to infer that the so-called Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups were mobilised by the “organised oil thieves” to impede the renewed efforts of NNPC limited, to mitigate the stealing of our crude oil, and also, safeguard the nation’s oil and gas assets.
PANDEF notes that the Niger Delta region has continued to suffer marginalisation and isolation in critical sectors of the country, especially in the oil and gas sector, stressing that while its people are denied adequate participation in, both the management and operations, of the oil and gas industry, including the Ownership of Oil Blocks and Marginal Fields, the sad reality is that people from other parts of the country, some of who do not even know what crude oil looks like but for what they see in pictures, own the bulk of oil marginal fields and blocks.
PANDEF notes that whereas the Petroleum Industry Act provided a paltry 3% of the settler’s operational cost for the Host Communities Development Trust Fund, it brazenly appropriated a humongous 30% of NNPC’s oil and gas profit for a nebulous Frontier Oil Exploration Fund.
The statement added, “The composition of the board and management of the new NNPC Limited is another irksome matter; it is the same old narrative of inequity and lopsidedness.
“The South-South geopolitical zone that accounts for over 80 per cent of the nation’s crude oil production and which should be bonafide shareholders has only one member on the Board.
“Meanwhile, oil and gas exploration activities have continued to degrade our hitherto luxuriant, healthy ecosystem, and ravage the indigenous people’s means of livelihood.
“Critical infrastructure in the region has also continued to either suffer neglect or total abandonment.
“Given such an unpleasant background in the Niger Delta, the reported protest by the said Arewa Youths over the surveillance contract awarded to High Chief Government Ekpemupolo is most insolent and annoying.
According to the statement, the fact that the Niger Delta people have been calm, despite the cruel injustice being meted out against them, does not mean that the people do not know what to do or lack the will to do it.
PANDEF advises the Federal Government, and the management of the titular NNPC limited, to ignore the shenanigans of the purported Arewa youth groups and maintained that the Niger Delta should not be provoked any further.