PRESS STATEMENT BY THE IJAW NATIONAL CONGRESS (INC) ON THE RECENT HAPPENINGS IN IJAWLAND AND THE NIGER DELTA REGION, June 2, 2021
The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has watched with concern the recent happenings in Ijawland in particular and the Niger Delta region in general in relation to the protest by Ijaw youth under the auspices of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) following the expiration of the thirty (30) days ultimatum issued by the IYC, the seven (7) days ultimatum issued by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), some Niger Delta agitators to the Federal Government of Nigeria calling for the constitution of the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in line with the NDDC Establishment Act 2000 and the recent allocation of marginal oil fields by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources. We, therefore after due consultations state as follows:
- The INC express concern about the growing tension in Ijawland and the Niger Delta region arising from the protests by Ijaw youths and the ultimatum issued by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo and some Niger Delta agitators over the non-constitution of the board of the NDDC.
- The INC recall that Governors of the Niger Delta region had months ago reviewed the matter and called for the constitution of the board of the NDDC which indeed reflect the position of the vast majority of the people of the region. There is currently an overwhelming anger over the state of affairs in the NDDC and except President Buhari takes proactive steps, things may go out of hand.
- The INC, as the apex Ijaw organization, worried by the brewing tension in the region has commenced the process of engagement with critical stakeholders with a view to preventing renewed hostilities in Ijaw land and the Niger Delta region. The INC therefore appeal for suspension of the current and further planned mass actions by the IYC and other Niger Delta Agitators, while the leadership take further steps to interface with critical stakeholders.
- However, the INC repeats its earlier demand during the inauguration of the current national leadership on May 14, 2021 for the Board of the NDDC to be constituted as a matter of urgency with a Bayelsan as Managing Director and a Deltan as Chairman in line with the NDDC Establishment Act 2000.
- The INC has also just received with utmost dismay information about the allocation of marginal oil fields in Ijaw land and some other parts of the Niger Delta region by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources without guarantee of host communities’ stake, internationally certifiable clean-up, remediation and restoration of damaged environment before the start of operations.
- The INC note that when the bid process for the award of marginal oil fields was advertised, two Ijaw sons and a daughter went to court in suit no. FHC/YEN/CO/81/2020: High Chief Phillip Brown Agu and others v. AGF and others seeking for an injunction to restrain the Federal Government from allocating marginal oil fields in Ijaw land until a comprehensive baseline environmental evaluation of all oil and gas fields awarded, renewed or divested since 1956 is done in accordance with relevant laws and international best practices. However, while the matter is ongoing, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and DPR awarded new marginal oil fields.
- The INC on behalf of the Ijaw people reject the allocation of new marginal oil fields in Ijaw land by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources without addressing the concerns and interests of our host communities. The INC would follow up with the litigation in court challenging the marginal oil fields award process to its logical conclusion.
- Similarly, the INC demand for immediate remediation of the massively degraded Niger Delta environment, relocation of the Headquarters and operational base of the IOCs, and the legitimization of auxiliary refineries which are of immediate concern to our people.
- The above position on the constitution of the board of the NDDC and award of marginal oil fields does not in any way invalidate the Ijaw age-long stance on 100% resource ownership and management or fiscal federalism which if implemented fully will provide no need for a federal interventionist agency like the NDDC.
The INC leadership call on Ijaw youths to be calm, while a committee has been set up to investigate the issues arising from the IYC protest and will continue with the engagement of relevant stakeholders with a view to addressing the issue of constitution of the board of the NDDC and the award of new marginal oil fields.
Signed for the Ijaw National Congress (INC):
Engr. Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha Engr. Ebipamowei Wodu
Publicity Secretary, INC National Secretary, INC
Prof. Benjamin Ogele Okaba