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From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Ijaw Youth Council [IYC] has rejected the planned take-off of Operation Crocodile SmileII in the Niger Delta region scheduled to commence Saturday.
Lately, the waterways in the Niger Delta region especially in Bayelsa State had been gripped by criminal activities culminating in the attack and killing of soldiers and other security agents prompting the Nigerian military to announce that it would commence Operation Crocodile Smile II.
The operation is aimed to tackle issues of sea-piracy, kidnapping and killing in the creeks and waterways of the Niger Delta.
Some ex-militant leaders and the leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum had cautioned the military of the planned operation noting that it could trigger another round of agitation in the region which could affect oil production.
The IYC in a statement by Eric Omare said the peaceful disposition of the people in spite of the lacklustre response from the Federal Government in addressing developmental concerns of the people should not be toyed with.
According to him what the people need is happiness that comes with great infrastructural development and not Operation Crocodile Smile II.
He noted that the people are not only disagreeing with the military on the argument that the operation is a routine exercise but also want to point out that the federal government has failed woefully to address issues of development in the region.
Omare stated that the federal government has shown through various actions that it is not interested in the development of the Niger Delta region but only buying time
“The Niger Delta region that has been surviving the Nigerian state since 1958 when oil was discovered in commercial quantity at Oloibiri, Bayelsa State has experienced too much pains rather than joy. The IYC disagrees with the argument of the military that the operation crocodile smile is a routine military training exercise. We hold the strong view that military exercise of whatsoever nature is not required in the region; rather we need practical steps to address the developmental challenges facing the region
“We believe that if the developmental challenges facing the region are addressed, there would be no need to train military officers in preparation for military operations of whatsoever nature in the region. The IYC demand that instead of operation crocodile smiles, the federal government should fulfil its promises to the region which led to the cessation of militant activities in 2016. It is sad to note that the federal government has even failed to release funds for the take-off of the maritime university, Okerenkoko, Delta State despite claim by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Akure, Ondo State that two billion naira has been released. This singular act clearly shows that the federal government is not interested in enduring peace in the Niger Delta region but only the free flow of oil. This is very sad and condemnable. We call on the Buhari administration to change its military approach to issues of the Niger Delta and adopt development driven approach.”