From Tony John, Port Harcourt

The Ikwerre People’s Congress Worldwide (IPC) has described President Muhammadu Buhari signing of the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as a ‘corrosive attack’ on the indigenous people and ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta.

The group stated that PIB enactment was a premeditated action against minority ethnic nationalities in the country.

A statement signed by IPC chairman Livingstone Wechie, Innocent Okocha (Vice Chairman),
Stanley Worgu (General Secretary) and Bright Chukwumati (Director, IPC Diaspora) expressed fear that the president’s action might stir up restiveness in the region.

The signatories stated:

‘IPC views this enactment as a corrosive attack on the interest of the Niger Delta as it affects the notorious PIB which had been seriously questioned particularly in the face of our demand for resource ownership rights.

‘It is important to state that the Act is not autochthonous and this makes it a premeditated action by the economic enemy forces against the minority ethnic nationalities of Nigeria.

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‘IPC worries that the new law is in furtherance to the asset-stripping by the Nigerian state which must devastate the Niger Delta, particularly the oil-producing communities at all costs.

‘Our fear is that this unholy law may wake up a new avoidable season of unrest in the region. The implications remain that national rebirth and healing will be a long road and an almost impossible journey if the Nigerian Government continues to ignore minority questions.’

The IPC cautioned that any law that is unacceptable to the people upon whom it would bind, might not get the desired result for sustainable development.

The group continued: ‘It was expected that the Federal Government including the National Assembly, would have used the opportunity of the PIB to cure some of the injuries caused by the Land Use Act and Petroleum Act where all the natural resources and assets of the Niger Delta were sequestered leaving the region totally impoverished and without a stake.

‘Instead, the Federal Government in conspiracy with the international oil multinationals along with the shameless representatives of the Niger Delta in the Senate and House of Representatives, have slavishly acquiesced to this jungle justice.

‘This is another missed opportunity by the Federal Government to create a better partnership with the Niger Delta ethnic nationalities. Rather, it chose to ignore and disregard the voice and advocacy of the people at such a sensitive matter.

‘We charge all the indigenous ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta not to give up in their push for justice because the quest for self-determination is justified by these insensitive actions of the Federal Government.’