The announcement by the President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration last Wednesday, July 22, 2009, made by the Petroleum Minister, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, to reverse the upgrading of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Warri to a Petroleum University and instead build a Petroleum University in Kaduna at the cost of 14.5 billion naira, is a brazen and unacceptable assault on the dignity and welfare of the ever-ruthlessly oppressed, plundered, abused and impoverished people of the oil producing Niger Delta.
It is not gainsaying the fact that it does not make any sense economically to site the Petroleum University in Kaduna in view of the enormous expenses needed to regularly transport faculty staff and students from Kaduna in the far north to the oil wells and oil facilities exclusively in the Niger Delta, in the southernmost part of the country, to conduct research.
As aggravated insults, President Yar’Adua and the extremely selfish and self-imposed northern oligarchs, also plan to build the headquarters of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) in Northern Nigeria, at Abuja, at the cost of eleven billion naira, in addition to enacting an extremely obnoxious new Petroleum Industry Bill that would totally rob the Niger Delta people of the ownership, control and enjoyment of their crude oil and natural gas resources.
The insensitivity and callousness of the deliberate egregiously unfair and oppressive policies of the Nigerian State against the people of the Niger Delta defy definition. Such shameless selfishness and sectionalism are inimical to national cohesion and, indeed, spells speedy doom for Nigeria as a nation-state!
The prevailing pervasive Ijaw Youth Restiveness and Insurgency are compelled and propelled by the imperative for survival and self-defense, in the Spirit of Isaac Adaka Boro, against the political subjugation and relentless ruthless oppression of the Ijaw people, unbridled plundering of their oil and gas resources, wanton destruction of their habitat and means of subsistence, their utter neglect and deprivation, atrocious violation of their basic human rights and dignity, continual heinous genocides perpetrated by an occupying military force of the Nigerian State that kills Ijaws with impunity, and resultant abominable squalor, hopelessness, despair and anarchy.
It is the height of insincerity and hypocrisy for the Nigerian government, which is wooing the Niger Delta freedom fighters with amnesty to resolve the Niger Delta Crisis, to simultaneously enact and implement policies that will further rob Niger Deltans of their rights and dignity, and ipso facto, alienate them and stoke the Niger Delta Crisis! This is yet another example of the federal government's lack of commitment to justice and peace in the Niger Delta.
In solidarity with all Niger Deltans and all well-meaning Nigerians, Ijaw Foundation, a platform for collective action by all Ijaws and all Ijaw organizations in the Diaspora and the Ijaw homeland, therefore calls for the immediate reversal of the said obnoxious and unacceptable policies and plans of the Nigerian government. We demand and insist that the Petroleum University must not be built at Kaduna but instead the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Warri be upgraded to a Petroleum University, as had been planned by the preceding Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
We also demand that the headquarters of the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) must not be sited in Abuja but in Bayelsa State.
Finally, we reject the current Petroleum Industry Bill and call for a new bill that grants and allocates at least fifty percent (50%) of all oil prospecting licenses and oil blocs to Ijaw/Niger Delta business interests and Niger Delta State Governments, Local Government Councils and communities.
We urge the Yar’Adua administration to stop all policies and actions that are inimical to national cohesion and survival of Nigeria.
Dr. Ebipamone N. Nanakumo
President, Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors
Mr. Lincoln Snithers
Secretary, Ijaw Foundation Board of Directors