08 June 2014, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Niger Delta youth groups threatening to cripple oil activities in the region over the failure of resource control to be adopted at the National Conference, have been urged to shun the old method of militancy and channel their pressure to the appropriate quarters.
An ex-militant and president of the Grassroots Development Network, GDN, Comrade Pat Obiene, made the appeal as he blamed Niger Delta youth leaders for failing to put their pressure on the right people, who, according to him, are lawmakers at the national and state levels.
“They want to cripple oil activities in the Niger Delta as justification that they did not give them resource control. Let me ask them ‘have you engaged your senators since 1999 from the Niger Delta’? It is only the GDN that have been publicly preaching that in a democracy, it doesn’t mean the man (politician) owes you nothing after his election.
“This is the only part of the world that a politician turns into a demi-god immediately after election, but when he come to share two cups of rice and some wrappers, everybody sings praises and worship for him. Both NASS (National Assembly) members and States Houses of Assembly members are guilty of this,” he said in an interview with SweetcrudeReports.
Obiene added: “So, it is not about using the same old method of militancy. We need to change our strategy. It is not about saying that you will cripple the economy. If you cripple the economy, what will you eat? Is it not from the same oil that all of us are feeding?”
He rather advocated for a mass mobilisation of the Niger Delta people to prevail on their lawmakers to work for the recognition of referendum as the way forward because resource control was a matter of law.
According to him, “If anybody or group now is deceiving himself or itself on crippling the economy, they have no idea of what to do and if they don’t, they should listen to those who have practical ideas. We have been lazy shying away from those who we should channel the pressure on, which are the lawmakers; because the whole issue of Niger Delta and resource control and the South South is a matter of law that was wrongly orchestrated since the foundation of Nigeria”.
Stressing that what was important now was to sustain massive mobilisation and prevail on the Federal and State lawmakers to quickly amend section 9 of the Constitution that does not recognise referendum, he said this was necessary as “the whole world now is pushing for referendum that gives the people the right to vote what they want.”
“The current constitution does not support referendum, even section 18 of the Intervention Act does not. So, the option now is not for them (youths) to threaten that they want to cripple oil activities because that’s the old method,” the former militant leader noted.
He further asserted: “We have three senators from each state. The Niger Delta has nine states. Since 1999, has any group called to engage the senators, apart from my group the GDN?
“The men holding the edge of the machete now are the senators, House of Reps members and the State lawmakers. As Niger Delta people, we need to mobilise massively and engage these lawmakers to create uproar on the floor. After all, we were here when some people threatened in the National Assembly that except issues are addressed in Rivers State, the 2014 national Budget will not be passed. Was it not in this country? Did it not take effect? Is it when it comes to resource control that we cannot deploy the same tactics. And here we are being told of the same old method of militancy that has not taken us anywhere?.
“If you ask me, I believe that it is the workable thing that we need to urgently engage our Senators on what they are doing on resource control”.