WARRI-The Isoko National Youth Assembly World-Wide, have threatened that they may be forced to take to arms against the Federal Government, if it fails to address an alleged deliberate exclusion of Isoko youths into the Non-Violent Phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme for Niger Delta, as they wared that their peaceful disposition should not be taken for cowardice.
President of Isoko National Youth Assembly, Comrade Ovie Umuakpo handed down the threat on behalf of the people of Isoko nation, at a World Press Conference held at the Aradhe Community Town Hall, Aradhe, Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State at the weekend.
Comrade Umuakpo speaking at the well world press conference, lamented that Isoko Nation which is the fifth largest producer of crude oil in Nigeria and the largest Onshore Producer of oil, has not benefitted from the Federal Government in several areas including the exclusion from the Non-Violent Phase of the Amnesty Programme especially with the ongoing Scholarship Programme for those who wish to further their education.
“The FG need to urgently open talks with Isoko elders and youth leaders with a view to enrolling into the amnesty program. The FG must act urgently to dissuade the overtly peaceful and patient youths of Isoko extraction from the growing notion that development of our region can only become feasible by violent agitation.”
“Any peace process which excludes and undermines the Isoko nation cannot be said to be all-inclusive and may after all be futile. We are therefore calling on government to declare an affirmative action to support the peace loving youth and people of Isoko. As a youth group we have embarked on massive and extensive campaign aimed at dissuading our youth from resorting to vandalism since according to the narrative it pays better than remaining peaceful,” Comrade Umuaklo reiterated.
Isoko National Youth Assembly condemned in strong terms the poor maintenance of oil facilities in Isoko especially that of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) which allegedly led to spillage at Ogini flow station recently. They therefore, called on NPDC to as a matter of urgency embark on comprehensive clean-up of the oil spill within the next few weeks or face the wrath of the Isoko people as they may have no other option than to shut down its operations on Isoko land.
While saying that the OML 30 which covers 1,095 Sqkm and 11 oil fields with Isoko communities making up 60% of the setup has become a great concern to the people of Isoko nation, Comrade Umuakpo regretted that contrary to expectation, the Community Development Board (CDB) as constituted by Heritage Energy the operator, was lopsided and does not reflect the true position of the equities of the resources being contributed to the setup as no one from the Isoko extraction is at the managerial cadre.
“There is also an unimaginably low representation of Isoko in the board as it is currently set up. We call on the management of Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd to make themselves immediately available for a renegotiation and creation of a new Community Development Board (CDB) solely for the Isoko people.”
The group noted with dismay the spate of abandoned projects by NDDC littered across the Isoko land despite directives from the federal government that all existing projects of the NDDC be completed without delay. They call on the Federal Government to mandate the NDDC to address the inhuman treatment meted on them by ensuring that all abandoned projects were completed and new ones initiated.
“Since 1975, no Isoko son or daughter has been appointed into the Federal Executive Council; talk more of representing the nation as an envoy. The Isoko nation has been consistently sidelined in major policy decisions affecting the Niger Delta and the country at large and are conspicuously absent from every list of appointments announced by the present administration.
“The concept of Federal character is ab-initio an attempt by the founding fathers of this great country to build a nation where equal opportunities abound and where every individual, tribe and people must feel that they have an equal chance to participate in governance without the bias of ethnic affiliations. The federal character principle which was enshrined in the constitution to protect minorities has not benefitted the Isoko-nation.
“The continuous invasion of Isoko communities of Ofagbe, Umeh, Ellu, Aradhe, Enwhe and the recent attack on Iyede by Fulani herdsmen is threatening to turn the ordinarily peaceful Isoko region into a volatile zone as it is becoming apparent that host communities may result to taking up arms to forestall any further loss of lives and properties to the rampaging herdsmen. More worrisome is the inability of the security agencies to bring to book even one of the criminals, which has heightened fear amongst our people.”