Sunday, 7 June 2015

Read the Demands Ijaw Youths Make to President Buhari

Image result for pictures of Mr. Udengs Eradiri 
The President, Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, tells about the Ijaws’ expectation from President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

What is your take on Muhammadu Buhari’s victory, considering that he contested against an Ijaw man?
Election is a contest one person must win; the man who does his homework properly will carry the day.
What is the expectation of your organisation from Buhari’s government?
The same way former President Goodluck Jonathan paid so much attention to the North is the same way we want Buhari to do. That is our expectation. That is why we have called for calm. I am very confident that, perhaps, more attention will be given to the Niger Delta. In any case, we hold the economy and no sane individual will take over the reins of leadership and refuse to pay attention to the people who produce the resources on which the people in government have projected all their electioneering promises for Nigeria.
Buhari has been reported to have announced the termination date for the amnesty programme, what is your opinion?
Buhari did not announce termination date. The termination date has always been there. It was set by former President Goodluck Jonathan for 2015. The termination date for the programme had been consistently mouthed by the chairman of the presidential programme. At a point, I even took him up on it. Along the line, the former President awarded scholarships to affected communities. The entire amnesty programme is not about N65, 000 (salary) to a group of people. It is also about the affected communities — those communities that recorded burst pipelines and environmental degradation. Other than that, there were agitations from groups that they must be included in the amnesty programme. The agitation led to an inclusion of about 3,000 other people. When such a number is added to a scheme, it affects it. It is only normal that a termination date be fixed, which the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration did and he fixed December 2015. Buhari only came to reiterate the earlier position that was not rescinded by the Jonathan-led administration.
Can you now say that the amnesty programme has achieved its goals and objectives?
What is the primary goal of the amnesty? For the Nigerian government, it’s for peace in the Niger Delta so that oil can flow. If it’s that, the goal has been realised 100 per cent. But looking at it holistically as to whether or not it has been beneficial to the Niger Delta people, it has not achieved its goal. It only achieves creating more money for Nigeria and less infrastructural development for the Niger Delta because the government is not using the money it is making from the process to live up to its earlier agreement of ensuring that the Niger Delta is developed.
Should the same gesture be extended to Boko Haram insurgents?
Niger Delta militants and Boko Haram are not the same; the struggles are different. Our struggle is clearly defined – we want economic and political space in the Nigerian context. We just had our time politically. Now, we are focusing on economic space which is the major reason why our agitation started in the first place. Clearly, we produce the oil that sustains Nigeria. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be kings in this environment. That is our struggle; you can identify it.
That of Boko Haram is an ideological and religious agitation. They have their modus operandi, we have ours. Our modus operandi is to arouse attention. When we got attention, we decided to key into the norms of modern society in order to bring about good things to our people. But Boko Haram says no. Its members kill people and make use of bombs. They know what they are looking for. As a leader of our movement, I respect their own movement. They should focus on their struggle; I do not want to join issues with them. I am more interested in what concerns us in the Niger Delta. Our struggle is different from that of Boko Haram. The approach towards resolving the issues must be different as well.
The House of Representatives just passed the Petroleum Industry Bill. What is your take on it?
I will like to see the version of the PIB that was passed because we heard that the whole Nigeria is now a host community. If pipeline is passing through Kaduna, there is no reason why Kaduna people should not benefit from anything that concerns pipeline because they also have the capacity to destroy the pipeline or steal the product. If that is what they mean, there is no problem. But if it is to undermine us as Niger Delta people and whittle down our agitation, they will bear the consequences.
Do you see President Buhari signing the PIB into law?
The question is: which version is he signing into law? As I speak to you, the last time that I counted, there were five different versions of the PIB. As I speak to you, I don’t even know which of them was passed. I need to look at the passed document so that we, as Niger Delta people, can sit down and X-ray it. Our benefit in the passed document is what is important.
What is your view on power rotation and the decision of the All Progressives Congress to dump it?
The decision to dump power rotation is a time bomb. Nigeria has had a culture of rotating power. Our brother (Jonathan) was President. Clearly, the election results showed that Buhari was not accepted in the South-East and the South-South. It is now left to a reasonable party to ensure the power sharing formula. We should not forget that the agitation for self-determination is very ripe in the South-South. This agitation is taking a different dimension in the South-East. If the South-South people and the South-East people should come together, Nigeria will be gone before you say Jack Robinson. The IYC believes that the administration should be given the opportunity to show us its dance steps. If they say they are going to abandon it (rotation), it means this country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
How best do you think the Federal Government can fight corruption?
When Buhari was campaigning, he said clearly that he was going to declare his assets publicly, but he has yet to do so. We are calling on him to do so. I think that the issue of corruption and the posture of the administration must be expressed by the President himself. Virtually all the people around the President have one case or another bordering on corruption. Nigerians voted for Buhari not because he is Buhari, but because of his integrity, believing that it will come to bear on leadership. That’s what Nigerians want but they forget that Goodluck Jonathan had that kind of integrity; it was the people around him that destroyed him. And those same hawks are the same people around Buhari.
There is still much poverty in Bayelsa State, despite the resources of the state. Why is this so?
Bayelsa is not the only state facing economic crisis. We have farms but many people no longer go to farm. When I was a kid, everybody had a farm. Today, agriculture is the main thing. In Lagos, people are leaving their lucrative white collar jobs to go and start fish farms because they now understand that people must eat. If you have a fish farm, you will be making money in Bayelsa. You don’t need to go to America. People in Bayelsa expect the government to be doling out money to them. We must stop it. Our people are lazy people. They are too used to government money.



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