*Urge youths to embrace peace, innovation for sustainable development
26 August 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — Youths in the Niger Delta have been urged to shun consistent destruction of the ecosystem, pollution of air and surface water through pipeline vandalism, and embrace peace and unity as the only panacea to sustainable development in the region.
These were the key points by various speakers at the Niger Delta Youth Sensitization and Entrepreneurship Workshop, organised by the Niger Delta Youth Front and sponsored by Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, TEPNG in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
A resource person at the event who is a Visiting Scholar, Institute of Foundation Studies, Rivers State University, Dr. Anthony Clark, frown on activities of youths in the region such as kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, closure of flow stations and rigs, piracy, ghost workers syndrome etc.
Clark who spoke on the topic, “Niger Delta Youths and IOC relationship: the way forward’ called on government agencies to ensure the standardisation of the oil and gas industry, with emphasis on local content to provide jobs for qualified youths from the region.
He urged IOCs to respect the Memorandum of Understandings entered with their host communities, lamenting that some of the MoUs when it must have been drafted, are not implemented judiciously.
“Government through her agencies like DPR, NOSDRA, NCDMB, must ensure the standardisation of the oil and gas industry operations, because when they do that, no oil company will operate without due process.
“There should be a deliberate plan by the government to employ youths and ensure an appropriate employment quota between foreign workers and qualified indigenous counterpart in line with equity and justice and the Nigerian Content Act.
“Respect for MoU and GMoUs, most communities have entered into agreements with these companies, some of these MoUs even when they have been drafted are not implemented judiciously. Let every party have respect for it.
“The IOCs should pay specific attention to the factors identified by the youths in particular and their host communities as being responsible for the occurrence of conflict in their communities.”
Clark also urged youths to desist from acts that lead to the over-militarization of the region, while emphasising on the need for unity and peace, explaining that when there is peace there will be no need for the government to militarised the communities.
“We must stop the consistent destruction of the ecosystem, pollution of air and surface water, through pipeline vandalism.
“Under no provocation should pipelines be blown, because it is injurious to our lives, environment and the nation’s economy; the economy of Nigeria depends solely on oil.
“Entrepreneurial skill development should be encouraged, communities must collaborate with IOCs to ensure lasting peace and youths, traditional rulers must be educated on the need to protect oil infrastructures.”
Also speaking, the President, Emerging Entrepreneurs Multi-purpose Cooperative Society, Mr. Eberechi Marcus, speaking on the theme, ‘curbing youth restiveness through leadership and entrepreneurship’ described violent protest as what youths do against their own gains.
Marcus said the protest is not the solution to problems in the region but the United Nations prescribed solution, which is entrepreneurship, and which he defined as the continuous quest for sustainable development through innovation.
“We should stop grieving over the past, violence is not the way out. We must blank out the negative tendencies and the enmity in our minds that have existed in the past. The Niger Delta youths must begin a thought process that would bring innovative ideas towards solving problems in the region.
“We should be thinking of the possible innovation we can bring out to dominate the oil and gas sector. What innovation can we add to make us sit at the board of the IOCs operating in our communities?
“Do you know that whenever there is restiveness in the Niger Delta, some persons are gaining from it while the region is losing? The only solution is peace and unity.”
While a Development Consultant and Governance Expert, Mr. Onyinlokwu David, said Niger Delta people must have a bigger master plan for the economic emancipation of the region.
David urged youths to seek academic knowledge and skills that will enable them to have the best hands and the best expertise in the oil and gas sector.