YENAGOA – The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has said it would not be able to guarantee peace in the Niger Delta following the decision of the National Assembly to retain the three per cent proposed for host communities in the harmonised Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
This is just as the INC commended National Assembly members from the region who staged a walkout during the passage of the harmonised PIB on Thursday to protest against the three per cent allocation.
The President of the INC, Professor Benjamin Okaba, in a statement he personally signed and issued on Friday, said Ijaw people remained resolute on their rejection of the three per cent and demand for 10 per cent.
He said, “Since our appeal as the leadership of the Ijaw nation appears to have fallen on deaf ears, we cannot promise or guarantee that we shall be able to contain any recourse to restiveness that could arise in Ijaw land.”
Okaba described the protest by the Senators and Representatives from the area as historic and symbolic.
He said their action was a clear message to Nigeria and the international community of the Ijaw people’s rejection of the three per cent, the misapplication of the meaning of host communities and the allocation of a whopping 30 per cent for oil exploration in the frontier basins.
According to him, the walkout by the legislators further expressed the dissatisfaction of the Ijaw people with the insensitivity of the Federal Government and multinational oil companies despite the fact that they bore the brunt of oil exploration and loss of livelihoods.
The INC boss said, “The Ijaw nation shall continue to condemn any policy that attempts to make what duly belongs to us as belonging to everybody and anybody without first respecting our right to ownership as we have at no time assumed ownership and control over what belongs to others.
“We are finding it difficult to calm the nerves of our people whose anger is daily heightened by the unrelenting oppressive demeanour of those presiding over the fortunes of our God-given resources.
“Whereas we thought the PIB offered a veritable opportunity for the leadership (of the country) to redress and pacify our people by hearkening to our petitions and cries of marginalisation and underdevelopment, the recent decision by the Senate of the Federal Republic to allocate a paltry three per cent to the Host Communities Trust Fund has poured fuel on an already combustible situation.”
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