From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ijaw youths across six states of the Niger Delta region under the aegis of Ijaw Youths Council have declared President Muhamammdu Buhari who doubles as minister of petroleum and the Minister of State, Timipre Sylva, persona non grata over the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
It said the duo were no longer welcomed in the region for their role in the passage and signing of the Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB) into law.
The group noted that despite the fact that the constitution guarantees the duo freedom of movement to any part of the country, they would be met with boos and jeers if they ventured into any part of the Niger Delta region for disregarding the plights and cries of the people of the region over the years.
IYC which had earlier rejected the PIA, describing it as a total affront on the people of the region, said the decision not to welcome Buhari and Sylva was a further show of disdain for their drop in the ratings of the Niger Delta people and should not expect any accolades and congratulatory messages from the region.
National spokesman of IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, in a statement in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, insisted that the best course of action the president should have taken was to send the Bill back to the National Assembly for upward review of the three per cent equity share to host communities whose environments had suffered decades of oil exploration activities by the oil companies.
According to him, a substantial percentage to the host communities would have helped to address the age long criminality.
Ekerefe described the explanation offered by Sylva on the three per cent as an afterthought adding that what the minister should have done as an illustrious son of the soil was to apologise and appeal to the consciences of the people, rather than justifying an act which is politically tailored to favour the north and its allies in the industry.
The statement read in part: “With the amount of speed the president used in signing the PIB without recourse to the stand taken by stakeholders from the region, the president has further demonstrated that the opinions of the Niger delta people don’t matter in his government as we have witnessed in other areas that requires urgent attention of his government.
“In the light of the forgoing, there’s no better time for the people of the Niger Delta region to intensify the struggle for resource control and self-determination. We believe strongly that will be the only sure path upon which our God giving natural resources can be managed by us, and not this impunity we have witnessed from a repressive federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari.”