Chairman of Advocacy Committee Against Oil Facility Vandalism and Deputy Governor of Delta State, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro has appealed to the youths of Gbaramatu Kingdom to rise up to protection of oil facilities in their domain whether or not they were perpetrators of vandalism, stressing that peace by any means remains the platform from which development and progress can be launched.
The Otuaro-led Advocacy Committee, yesterday visited Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom where it retired to a Town-Hall meeting that lasted through out the night with youths and ex-militants in their numbers, after conferring with HRM, Oboro-Gbaraun II, the Pere of Gbaramatu Kingdom.
The Deputy Governor, while agreeing that Gbaramatu Kingdom was ‘an endangered species”, noted that “war was hardly founded on justification”. Otuaro stressed that it was better to pursue peace so that as leaders, even before now in the struggle, we could engage federal government to grant some of the requests you have made.
Otuaro, who told the youths that his Advocacy Committee was open to privileged information even in private, asserted: “We seek your partnership and collaboration to finding a permanent solution to the challenge. It’s upon this honour you’ll do to us your leaders that we’ll engage the federal government to grant your requests. A dead man can’t ask for light or employment”. The deputy governor said.
Responding, Youth after youth who spoke at the Town Hall meeting, lamented that innocent citizens were being harassed by the military in going about their occupation. A youth leader, Moses Yabrade, apparently hit the bull’s eye when he recommended a path to safety of oil installations not implemented by oil companies and government.
He lamented that while the youths were willing to be involved despite their lamentable condition, there was no synergy between the government and its agencies for opting for surveillance, stressing that the arrest and incarceration of 5 persons/agents of the Pipeline Surveillance/Protection Services (PSPS) as confirmed by Chevron was a frightening experience. He advised that the Otuaro-led Advocacy Committee should help create the platform for the required synergy and work.
“In history, violence upon violence has never produced peace. Innocent ordinary people suffer for military harassment and intimidation that has made Gbaramatu Kingdom an endangered species. Gathering and working with intelligence is better”, Yabrade said, adding: “Nobody will destroy or allow the destruction of what or where he feeds from”.
“If the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC) gas line was engaged to generate electricity, for instance, for the communities in its path, no community will allow such vandalism that negatively affects its comfort, without confronting the perpetrators”, he continued.
Yabrade added that the Pipelines Products Marketing Company (PPMC) should re-introduce its abandoned but beautiful proposal of development award/projects for peaceful communities, an idea he said could galvanize communities to active protection of oil facilities.
Yabrade opined that the employment of Niger Deltans and grants of meaningful contracts in the Oil Industry could help motivate communities to protecting oil installations. He said the non engagement of people of the state in pipelines repairs contracts with non employment of youth of the area poses a serious problem for the people. He also said the Federal Government should kick-start the Export Processing Zone(EPZ) project capable of employing over 150, 000 youths. He concluded that over 80% of pre-amnesty issues were left unattended to by Government.
Other youths also expressed concern that people of the region close to the previous Goodluck Jonathan administration were being hunted, like High Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, who was zealously protecting oil installations from vandals.
They also recommended that the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, be funded and allowed to kick off to further engage the youths.