Ijaw youths on Tuesday accused the Nigerian government of colluding with International Oil Companies (IOCs) to sabotage the development of the Niger Delta region.
This was made known by the national spokesperson for the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Comrade Ebilade Erekefe, during a fact-finding mission to areas in Sangana and Fish-town communities of Akassa clan, Brass LGA, affected by oil spills.
He expressed dismay over what he described as “negligence” on the part of the Nigerian government regarding the plight of the coastal communities affected by an oil spill two weeks ago.
He noted with sadness the level of destruction the oil spill has caused the environment, aquatic life and livelihoods of the predominantly fishing community.
He said, “As you can see with me, this is the spotted flowing crude oil along the sea and on the shores of the river bank. It’s quite unfortunate and provocative that up till now, the two major oil companies, Chevron and Conoil, that are operating along this shoreline have not taken responsibility for their negligence.
“As Ijaw Youth Council, we have a duty to join our people to come and see what is happening here, and what we are seeing is quite sad and unfortunate, that a company doing multi-billion dollar business in a community where the livelihood of the people is dependent on the aquatic life is not giving the desired attention to the community, especially in their moment of need.
“Up till this moment, none of them has even sent representatives to come to these communities to interface with them, at least to show empathy in their current travails. The people are having serious health challenges and we call on these IOCs to send relief materials, including health workers immediately to save lives.
“What you’re seeing here is not pipeline vandalism like they always say, this is clearly an equipment failure on the part of the IOCs whose pipelines have lasted beyond their expiry dates. They need to replace them immediately to save our environment.
“We don’t want to believe that the Federal Government who’s benefiting majorly from the oil operations of the IOCs is colluding with them to treat our people as animals when ever a spill occurs."
Ebilade said the Ijaw Youths Council would go back and take a strong but decisve position that would be backed by all necessary legitimate actions if need be, "which we believe will compel the company whose facility has caused this unimaginable damage to own up to it and take responsibility."