YENAGOA- Mr. Udengs Eradiri is the immediate past president of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC). In this interview with DAILY WATCH crew, he said that Nigerians must start looking for home grown solution to it’s problems; that illegal refinery began as a result of failure of leadership to address genuine concerns of the people; that if illegal miners in the Northern part of Nigeria are organized into cooperatives to add value to federal government of Nigeria, then the Southern illegal miners also deserve to contribute to nation building by being organized and controlled by federal government to add value; that he supports a plan in form of a program to address the menace of illegal refinery operators but he don’t want to use the word ‘Amnesty’; that Niger Deltans must participate in the oil largess of Nigeria and that 40% of oil auction be made exclusively for people from the Niger – Delta if only we must continue this present structure of Nigeria otherwise 100%; that the federal government should show seriousness by relocating NNPC, NAPIMS and DPR to the Niger – Delta to show commitment; among other sundry issues.
What are your views concerning the renewed interest of the federal government in the Niger-Delta? Is it a step in the right direction?
Yes, it is a step in the right direction in the sense that we had all along demanded for civil engagement of Niger Delta people rather than the military option employed by the President Muhammadu Buhari initially. You can see that hostilities have seized!
What would be your reaction to the Acting president’s pronouncement that the federal government is going to work with illegal refiners?
Nigeria must start looking for home grown solution to its problems, illegal refining began as a result of failure of leadership to address genuine concerns of the people. Since people had to survive thereby leading to oil theft, loss of revenue to federal government and pollution of the environment this must stop and if illegal miners in the Northern part of Nigeria are organized into cooperatives to add value to federal government then the southern illegal miners also deserve to contribute to nation building by being organized and controlled by federal government to add value.
And do you think it would create more jobs and increase the economic fortunes of Nigeria?
Jobs are already being created illegally; so with government control this will add to National Gross Domestic Product (GDP); save the environment and reduce criminal gangs as it is today.
A coalition of Niger Delta Youth have called on the Federal Government to grant pardon and amnesty to operators illegal refineries. That the relevant federal agencies should adopt the model used in the presidential Amnesty Programme for ex-militants. Do you concur?
Well with the government statement on working with illegal miners, its already a pardon of sort but modalities for operation is still being awaited. Amnesty is a different issue compared to the bush refineries but ultimately government must have a plan in form of a program to address the menace. So, I support a plan but I don’t want use the word amnesty.
How do you see to the $20 billion Gas Revolution Industrial Park (GRIP) Project to be sited at Ogidigben in Warri South-West Local Government Area? Would you commend Vice-President – Osinbajo for that?
The EPZ project started during the last administration is lying fallow. I will prefer to hear work have commenced on that gas project or contractors back to site; then I will celebrate. Commending Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for that statement will be another dance to gallery!
How committed is president Buhari to Niger – Delta development?
President Buhari’s commitment is what the Vice – President is manifesting through the peace initiative that has brought promising moves and pronouncements.
How do you see to the payment of the 13% derivation to the state governors? Is it illegal or unconstitutional? How should it be payed?
Am not a lawyer.
How would you advise the federal government – Acting President Osinbajo on transparency on Niger Delta dialogue between the federal government and the Niger – Delta region?
The Acting President is showing enough sincerity and honestly; I think we don’t need any dialogue team anymore. On the 1st of Nov. 2016, PANDEF already a group of leaders across the region martialed out some demands; all that is needed is for government to meet those demands just as the Vice President is working seriously to meet and have committed government on most of the demands.
What is your view on the allocation of oil blocks to indigenes of Niger-Delta states?
Absolutely, our people must participate in the oil largess of Nigeria. So, I suggest 40% of oil auction be made exclusively for people from the Niger Delta if we must continue this present structure of Nigeria otherwise 100%.
There are agitations for oil companies operating in the South-South region to relocate their headquarters to Niger-Delta. What does the region stand to benefit from this? And now that a place like Lagos State where we have a large concentration of these oil companies’ headquarters has equally become an oil producing state, what do we now do?
Oil companies relocation order is a good thing, jobs and sense of belonging will return to Niger Delta and ultimately development and peace will return. The federal government should show seriousness by relocating NNPC, NAPIMS and DPR to the Niger Delta to show commitment. Lagos being oil producing state poses no challenge; if Shell operates majorly in Lagos, then the head office should remain there, but if your major operation is in the Niger Delta, then it makes no sense to be in Lagos. Whoever is operating the Lagos fields must remain there. You don’t expect Coal Mining companies to keep their offices in Kano when the Coal is in Enugu.
It’s like the “New Delta Avengers (NDA)” sounded a battle cry against the Delta Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) and other oil agencies. How do you see to this?
Agitators should focus their grievances on agencies at home and their state governors and not federal government of Nigeria alone; these agencies are a disgrace to humanity especially in the Niger Delta.
How do you see to the three-month ultimatum issued the South Easterners by the Arewa Youth groups? Don’t you think this placed the country on the edge?
Obviously, Nigeria is becoming a failed entity because of its faulty foundation and you can’t put something on nothing. All these threats are signs and a reason that we must go to a roundtable to determine whether to continue or not. If you make peaceful change impossible violent change may be inevitable. That’s where we are heading!
How do you see to the threat of Niger-Delta militants to declare the Sovereign Republic of Niger Delta on October 1, 2017?
If Arewa, Igbo and Oduduwa are threatening their own Republic, do you expect Niger Delta to fold their hands and be used as guinea pigs?
Is Buhari really winning war against corruption, insurgency?
Its work in progress but the approach must change so far as you can see cases being lost on a daily basis. Its because the apparatus for fighting corruption is not in sync with todays realities in dealing with such menace. For insurgency, fairly only for Boko Haram, we still have other forms of threats to stability that portends more danger than insurgents. The government needs to step up their game.
What is your assessment of Niger-Delta Governors administrations two years down the line? With much emphasis on your state governor?
Niger Delta governors are yet to understand that they are in opposition and need to work together to create a viable economic environment in the region for growth and development. Too much internal politics of self as against their mandate. four years will soon finish but our people are seriously suffering and I hope we have suffered enough that 5000 Naira will not determine our votes in 2019.