• FG seeks support of Ijaws to tackle oil theft, pipeline vandalism

    Fg seeks support of ijaws to tackle oil theft pipeline vandalism - nigeria newspapers online
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    From Adewale Sanyaolu,  Houston, Texas

    Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Oil), Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, has called for the support of Ijaws in Nigeria and Diaspora in the fight against oil theft and pipeline vandalism, which reached unprecedented dimesnsions in recent times.

    The Minister stated this after he received an award from the Ijaw National Council (INC) as part of activities lined up for the INC-Americas Convention and Fundraising held in Houston, Texas at the weekend.

    He further pledged the support of the Federal Government to Ijaws in the diaspora, assuring them that as a proud ‘son of the soil’, he would also use his office to support them.

    Lokpobiri called on Ijaws to step up campaigns and advocacy against oil theft, saying that the menace has contributed in no small measure to the environmental pollution in the Niger Delta region.

    He lamented that Bayelsa State is the most polluted State in the entire Niger Delta region as against the widespread believe ranking Ogoni as the polluted.

    He blamed the environmental pollution in the region on the activities of oil producing companies and individuals who engage in stealing of crude oil for illegal refining.

    ‘‘After refining the crude oil illegally, they throw the rest into the river. But you will agree with me that by our laws, the Federal Government owns the resources while the water and land resources belong to the people where they can engage in traditional farming and fishing for their daily survival.

    “But when those of you in the diaspora speak, those at home listen more because the way they look at people in diaspora is different from those of us at home, maybe because of the exchange rate differential. So, when you talk, they listen to you. In all, you need to support the effort of government so that we can preserve our environment”.

    He added that there was the need for those involved in the act of sabotage to stop pipeline vandalisation because they cause more harm to the communities than the little money they intend to make.

    “There is nowhere in the world that one man can cater for the needs or feed the entire community no matter how wealthy you are or the level of proceeds you may get from illegal refining or pipeline vandalisation, you can never amass enough wealth to be able to develop your community”, he added.

    He maintained that Ijaws are very strategic to the economy of the country as oil accounts for 90 per cent of Nigeria’s forex earnings.

    The Petroleum Minister added that the Ijaws occupy the entire coastline and accounts for more of the oil wells across both onshore and offshore.

    However, he said, for them to enjoy the benefit of the rich natural resources, Ijaws must be ready to work with Government in order to shore up revenue that accrue to the States and Local Governments. the country assured the gathering of Ijaw sons and daughters.

    Earlier in his remarks, the President General of INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, said the choice of the theme of this year’s event, ‘‘Ijaw-Nation: Nurturing Partnership through Symbiotic Relationships Towards Homeland, Social, and Economic Development’’ is very apt and captivating in many respects and ramifications, as it seeks to identify and address the divergent means, methodologies and strategies of rejigging, mobilizing, galvanizing, and repositioning credible and symbiotic linkages and partnership among and between the Ijaws in the Americas, others in Diaspora.

    He worried that despite the God-given enormous human and natural resources of the Ijaws, who are equally ranked among the four largest  ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Ijaw nation, the focus of this conversation, is badly impoverished, brutally balkanized, neglected, and undermined by successive administrations in Nigeria-even before independence.

    The Ijaw local economy is badly in articulated. This is worsened by the lack of meaningful wealth creation/empowerment and employment opportunities.

    The Ijaw ecosystem, to say the least, the worst ever anywhere in the world, has continuously faced unmitigated catastrophes arising largely from oil and gas exploitation-related pollution without any reasonable form of remediation and compensation.

    The Ijaws suffer a Slave and Stranger status in a nation where they are aboriginal and the producers of its economic mainstay,’’.

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