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Ijaw Youth criticizes Bayelsa Gov’s stance on maritime security, cites resource control agenda



The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has voiced strong opposition to Bayelsa Governor Duoye Diri’s recent criticism of the Federal Government’s maritime security policy.

In a statement issued on Monday by its spokesman, Binebai Princewill, the IYC described Diri’s comments as “highly unpatriotic and purely against the self-determination and resource control agenda of the Ijaw Youth Council as contained in the Kaiama Declaration of 1998.”

Diri’s remarks, made during a courtesy visit from Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, drew ire from the IYC. The governor had expressed concern about the government’s engagement of non-state actors in securing the maritime environment, calling it a “policy decision that the government would later regret to have adopted.” He urged a review of the security strategy.

The IYC, however, viewed Diri’s criticism as conflicting with the council’s longstanding position on resource control and self-determination outlined in the Kaiama Declaration. This document, adopted in 1998, asserts the rights of communities in the Niger Delta to control resources within their domains and advocates for greater autonomy from the federal government.

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The IYC statement argues that the deployment of non-state actors in maritime security represents a step towards achieving greater control over natural resources in the region.

The IYC said Diri’s statement was too weighty to be ignored “because such is coming from the Governor General of Ijaw Nation, who is supposed to, at all times, protect the interests of our people in the Nigerian State.”

The IYC it was important for it to “correct the wrong impression created before the Federal Government of Nigeria and Nigerians in general.”

The group also said Nigerians could bear witness that the security of oil pipelines had improved and “oil production has tremendously increased,” since the Federal Government engaged a private firm, Tantita Security Services Limited, owned by ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.

“The Ijaw Youth Council, the apex youth body in Ijaw and Niger Delta is using this medium to commend the Federal Government of Nigeria for engaging private firms for the protection of oil and gas facilities in the region.

“To us, this is one of the best decisions taken so far by the Federal Government of Nigeria in recent times as it is in line with the local content laws of the country.

“While the Ijaw Youth Council will continue to agitate for resource control and more participation in the oil and gas industry, we want to state that the private firms, particularly Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, and other firms handling the surveillance job are all doing great professionally in collaboration with other security agencies.

“The NNPCL, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the entire Nigerian populace are aware that since Tantita and other private firms took over the surveillance contract to secure the nation’s critical assets, oil production has tremendously increased thereby making Nigeria more economically viable.

“Apart from the increased oil production in Nigeria following the engagement of these private firms, they have also created massive employment for thousands of Niger Delta youths into these companies in curbing oil theft.

“The level of employment created by these private firms in the Niger Delta region is unprecedented. The IYC is fully in support of this initiative of the Federal Government.

“We should be aware that even countries around the world with notable best security architecture still employ the services of non-state actors like what the Federal Government of Nigeria is doing now.”

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