WARRI- The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide has called on President Buhari, Petroleum Minister Ibe Kachikwu, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Local Content in the oil and gas industry Board to stop the internal colonialism of Niger Delta communities in the oil and gas industry by Nigerian oil bloc owners.
The President of the IYC, Eric Omare made the call while addressing protesting IYC clan executive members of Gbaramatu, Ogbe-Ijoh, Diebiri, Ogulagha, Iduwini, Kou and Egbema Clans in Delta State and parts of Bayelsa and Edo States.
The protesting IYC clan executive members led by Mr. Doubra Wuruya of Gbaramatu and Mr. Smart Okosu of Ogbe-Ijoh Clans in their address to the IYC President condemned and expressed their total dissatisfaction with what they termed ‘’internal colonialism’’ of Niger Deltans in the oil and gas industry.
According to the IYC clan youth leaders, since the take-over of most oil and gas assets previously owned by multinational oil companies by indigenous companies such as Aiteo, Seplat, NECONDE, Shoreline, Dubril Oil and other local companies in line with the local content in the oil and gas industry law, the local operators have introduced practices that amount more or less to internal slavery of the Niger Delta host communities.
They stated that these new oil asset operators apart from owning and operating the oil blocks have also incorporated several companies with which they do lucrative oil servicing contracts within their block areas that ought to be done by local people and even employment opportunities that are supposed to be given to the host communities are given to the kindred of the Nigerian assets owners to the detriment of the Ijaw and Niger Delta oil and gas host communities.
The IYC clan leaders stated that this new strategy by the Nigerian oil block owners is not only condemnable but it is also illegal as it amounts to conflict of interest for oil block owners to own subsidiary companies with which they execute key contracts for the operator to the detriment of the communities. They specifically accused NECONDE for using Nestoil Nigeria Limited to execute most of the oil service contract jobs in Oil Mining Lease 42 oil fields namely Odidi 1 & 11, Egwa 1 & 11, Ajuju/ Batan field and Jones creek in Ogbe-Ijoh, Diebiri and Gbaramatu Kingdoms to the detriment of the indigenes of the host communities who have the capacity to do similar jobs.
The protesting Ijaw youths warned that the youths of the affected communities may be forced to take their destiny into their hands by disrupting company operations if these issues are not addressed by President Buhari, Petroleum Minister Ibe Kachikwu, the NNPC and the Local Content Board.
Responding, President of the IYC, Eric Omare condemned in the strongest terms the deprivation of host communities by Nigerian oil block owners who are beneficiaries of the local content policy which was a product of the Niger Delta agitation.
The Ijaw youth leader recalled that the Local Content Act was the first bill that was signed into law by former President Jonathan on assumption of office as part of efforts to address the Niger Delta agitation.
Omare stated ‘‘That local content in the oil and gas industry was not introduced to turn Nigerians from other part of the country as local over lords and internal oil colonialists to the Niger Delta people but primarily to empower the people of the region to participate in the oil industry.
He recalled that the IYC under one of his predecessors, Mr. Mieabiye Kuromiema as President initially negotiated five (5) percent on behalf of the communities in the divestment of OML 42 but this was not implemented by the Petroleum Ministry and NECONDE.
He promised to follow up the issue to ensure that the OML 42 communities in Ogbe-Ijoh, Diebiri and Gbaramatu Kingdoms are given their five percent interest in the OML 42 oil fields.
The IYC leader therefore called for the introduction of what he called ‘community content in the oil industry’ to address the emerging marginalization of local people by Nigerian oil bloc owners. He also called on President Buhari, the NNPC and the Local Content Board to investigate the allegation of oil block operators having sister companies to carry out key oil servicing jobs to the detriment of the host communities and in violation of the conflict of interest rule in corporate governance.
Omare also reiterated one of the 16 points demands of PANDEF to award oil blocs to Niger Deltans starting from the forth coming marginal oil fields allocation. While calling on the IYC clan executive members to maintain the peace especially those from Gbarmatu Clan who are host to the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and do voluntary services towards the take-off of the institution.
He however, said the Ijaw people are peace loving and hospitable people who seek only justice; hence he called on the Nigerian government to be fair and just to the Ijaw people to ensure sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region.