$1bn War Chest Against Oil Theft: Ijaw Youths Seek Involvement Of Host Communities
SAN FRANCISCO, March 31, (THEWILL) - The foremost Ijaw youth organisation, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), has asked the Federal Government to involve the local oil producing host communities in its renewed fight against oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
This followed the recent disclosure by President Goodluck Jonathan that the government has earmarked $1billion to ensure the implementation of a programme to fight oil theft and vandalism of oil infrastructures in the Niger Delta of which a technical committee to look into all aspects of the implementation of the programme has been set up.
President Jonathan made the disclosure during a meeting with the Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Mr.
Mark Rutte, and the Chief Executive Officer of Shell International, Mr.
Ben Van Beurden, in Netherlands.
In a statement signed by IYC's spokesman, Eric Omare, the Ijaw youths applauded the Federal Government for taking what they called a "drastic and holistic approach to address the problem of oil theft in Nigeria".
Omare said considering the massive ecological damage that oil theft and pipeline vandalism of oil facilities have caused to the Niger Delta environment, no time is better than now for such approach to tackle the menace in the region.
Omare, however stated that no programme to fight oil theft and oil infrastructure vandalism would be effective without the involvement of the people of the oil producing communities.
He argued that the oil facilities are situated in the region and such the involvement of the people and other critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta would be critical to the formulation and implementation of the programme.
"The problem of oil theft which is a fall out of the unresolved Niger Delta question (the question of resource ownership and management)cannot be resolved without the involvement of the people of the oil producing communities who are the primary stakeholders in the fight against oil theft and vandalism of oil infrastructures", the statement said.
The Ijaw youth organisation, therefore, likened the involvement of the host communities in the fight to tackle oil theft to the Federal Government amnesty programme, which, it said, had succeeded because of the involvement of critical stakeholders in the region.
"It is on record that the Federal Government Amnesty programme for ex-agitators in the Niger Delta succeeded because of the involvement of key stakeholders such as the IYC, state governments and other critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta region in the conception and implementation," Omare said.
He said if the communities are not involved in the process and implementation of programme to fight oil theft in the region, there would be failure of such programmes over time.
Omare said within the next few weeks, IYC would make a position paper to the Presidency to involve the people of the oil producing communities and other critical stakeholders from the onset in formulating policies to fight oil theft and vandalism of oil infrastructure.
"This is the only way such a programme can be successfully implemented," IYC said as it called on the Federal Government to organise a Presidential Summit on oil theft.
The group said such summit should involve the people of the oil producing communities and other critical stakeholders as the knowledge of the local people would be of immense benefit in finding solution to the menace of oil theft.
"The solution to oil theft cannot be found by office -based technocrats.
The solution lies with the people of the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta Region," IYC said.
"The knowledge of those who know the operations of the syndicates involved in the act of oil theft is crucial in coming up with the appropriate policy.
"The IYC further call on the Technical Committee to organise public hearings to seek the views of members of the public especially the oil producing communities on how best to tackle the problem of oil theft and oil facilities vandalism.
" The group said the programme would surely fail if the oil bearing communities and critical stakeholders are not part of the formulation and implementation process.
"We strongly advise the Federal Government to borrow a leaf from the conception and implementation of the Niger Delta Amnesty programme in tackling the menace of oil theft and vandalism of oil infrastructures," it said.