"enough is enough” Ijaw Youths vow to shut down oil operations

Tension increased among workers and management of Shell Producing and Development Company (SPDC) in Port Harcourt and Lagos, as youths in Bayelsa State under the aegis of Izon Progressive Youth Vanguard (IPYV), warm up to shut down oil companies operating in the state.

They were said to be getting set to embark on mass protests to headquarters of SPDC in Port Harcourt and Lagos, following the non-compliance of SPDC towards the rules and regulations of Bayelsa State Physical Planning and Development Board (BSPPDB)

Our correspondent reports that the Bayelsa state government had recently accused multinational oil companies, particularly Shell of such huge negligence with reference to its Gbaran Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project in Gbaranmotu leading to sealing its facility.

The planned protest was sequel to the letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, over alleged contraventions of extant laws of Bayelsa State by the oil and gas companies, resulting in loss of revenues.

Among the oil companies identified as major culprits in tax evasion and other shady deals include Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC); Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC); Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL); Consolidated Oil (CL); Conoil Producing; Brass LNG and Aiteo Energy.

Shell and other oil companies operating in the state were said to be guilty of the non-compliance allegation.

 The leader of IPYV, who is also the Chairman of Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Central Zone, Mr. Bobolaiyefa Owopeiei, told journalists on Friday that the criminal exploitative tendencies and irresponsible behaviour of the oil companies towards their host communities, were very inhuman.

He said, “We are glad that the Bayelsa State Government has decided to fight this injustice from both legal and intellectual perspectives. 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 their operations until justice is done. We say enough is enough”

 Owopelei further complained about 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 do not feel obliged to do so in Bayelsa State? And yet! Bayelsa State is at the centre of the oil and gas industry which plays host to a high percentage of the nation’s assets in the oil and gas sector.

“Multinational oil and gas companies occupy large spaces of scarce land resource 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. We say enough is enough”.

 The IYC leader further hinted that beyond the protest, the youths have informed their various representatives in both the Senate and House of Representatives to raise these issues (complaints) on the floor of both chambers as a matter of urgent national concern which must be addressed through effective legislation.

Owopeiei said, “The relevant issues in this matter must be tackled using all means to underscore our seriousness. That’s why we have taken steps to inform all our representatives in the National Assembly to raise these issues on the floor 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 law 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 holding in Houston, Texas, United States to press our demands.”

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