The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has warned northern youths against what it described as unnecessary and misguided expressions and actions in order not to provoke a crisis in the Niger Delta region.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, PANDEF said the warning was necessitated by reports that a faceless northern group, under the guise of Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups, had demanded the termination of a pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a son of the Niger Delta region, Ekpemupolo (popularly known as Tompolo), during a protest at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited in Abuja.
PANDEF cautioned that the threat by the group to paralyse activities at NNPC headquarters if the said contract awarded to Government Ekpemupolo was not revoked, was not only absurd and delusional, but capable of sparking severe consequences in the Niger Delta region.
Robinson said: “We are sending a serious warning to those misguided Arewa youths and their sponsors. Let it be known to them that the Niger Delta people will not tolerate such absurdity.
“Tompolo, and indeed any other capable son or daughter of the Niger Delta, for that matter, has the right to be awarded any contract by, any agency or company of the federal government, more so the NNPC Limited, whose core operations are carried out mainly in the Niger Delta region.
“Nigeria is reportedly losing billions of naira daily through organised, outrageous crude theft by criminals and corrupt officials, it, thus, won’t be inapposite to infer that the so-called Amalgamated Arewa Youth Groups were mobilised by the ‘organised oil thieves’ to impede the renewed efforts of NNPC limited, to mitigate the stealing of our crude oil, and also, safeguard the nation’s oil and gas assets.”
He noted that the Niger Delta region has continued to suffer marginalisation and isolation in critical sectors of the country, especially in the oil and gas sector.
“While our people are denied adequate participation in, both the management and operations, of the oil and gas industry, including the ownership of oil blocks and marginal fields, the sad reality is that people from other parts of the country, some of who do not even know what crude oil looks like but for what they see in pictures, own the bulk of oil marginal fields and blocks.
“Whereas the Petroleum Industry Act provided a paltry three per cent of the settlor’s operational cost for the Host Communities Development Trust Fund, it brazenly appropriated a humongous 30 per cent of NNPC’s oil and gas profit for a nebulous Frontier Oil Exploration Fund.
“Critical infrastructural projects in the region have also continued to either suffer neglect or total abandonment.”
He, therefore, noted that given such an, “unpleasant background in the Niger Delta, the reported protest by the said Arewa Youths over the surveillance contract awarded to High Chief Government Ekpemupolo is most insolent and annoying.”
“The fact that the Niger Delta people have been calm, despite the cruel injustice being meted out against them, does not mean that the people do not know what to do or lack the will to do it,” he added.