Irked by the alleged non-compliance with the rules and regulations of the Bayelsa State Physical Planning and Development Board, youths in Bayelsa State are warming up for a showdown with the oil companies operating in the State.
The youths are reportedly preparing to embark on mass protests at the headquarters of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Port Harcourt and Lagos.
The State government had recently accused Shell of negligence, with particular reference to its Gbaran Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project in Gbaran Toru, which led to the sealing off of the facility.
It was gathered yesterday that the planned protest was a consequence of a letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by Governor Seriake Dickson containing the alleged contraventions of extant laws of Bayelsa State by the oil and gas companies operating in the State, resulting in loss of revenues.
Shell and other oil companies operating in the State were said to be guilty of the non-compliance allegation.
In a statement made available to journalists in Yenagoa this morning, the youths operating under the aegis of the Izon Progressive Youth Vanguard led by Comrade Bobolaiyefa Owoupele, who is also the Chairman of Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Central Zone, bemoaned the criminal exploitative tendencies and irresponsible behavior of the oil companies, particularly towards their host communities.
"We are glad that the Bayelsa State government has decided to fight this injustice from both a legal and intellectual perspective. But, on our part as youths, we will fight them according to tradition. We will take this fight to their doorsteps. Every morning we will march to their offices in Lagos and Port Harcourt. We will mobilize our youths in those States to picket their offices. We will shut down their operations until justice is done. We say enough is enough," he said.
Mr. Owoupele further criticized the double standards employed by oil and gas companies operating in the State.
"Why would the oil companies pay taxes and levies in Lagos and elsewhere and not feel obliged to do so in Bayelsa? And, yet Bayelsa State is at the center of the oil and gas industry which plays host to a high percentage of the nation's assets in the oil and gas sector.”
He continued, “Multinational oil and gas companies occupy large spaces of scarce land resources in the State without a commensurate contribution to the economy of the State. They do not have offices in the State. They do not employ indigenes and do not award contracts to indigenes of the State.”
The youth leader further hinted that, beyond the protest, they have informed their various representatives in both the Senate and House of Representatives to raise these issues on the floor of both chambers as a matter of urgent national concern that must be addressed through effective legislation.
"The relevant issues in this matter must be tackled using all means to underscore their seriousness. That's why we have taken steps to inform all our representatives at the National Assembly to raise these issues on the floors of both chambers. We will no longer tolerate a situation whereby oil companies in the State will continue to deliberately flout and contravene the laws of the State, in particular, the State environmental laws, the Physical Planning and Development laws and other State and national laws that bring tax and levy revenues to Bayelsa State. We will also be fully represented at this year's Oil and Gas Trade Conference being held in Houston to press our case,” he disclosed.