Fresh conflict is brewing in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s vastly polluted oil and gas region. This time, it has nothing to do with the usual oil war by armed youths in the region.
Some disturbed ex-militants, Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), alongside other groups in the oil region are embarking on what they described as ‘’a peaceful protest’’ on the Ogoni section of the East-West Road (Onne to Eleme Junction) from March 1 – 31, 2022.
This Is contained in a letter addressed to the Inspector General of Police, requesting for police presence for the purpose of security during the protest.
Signatories to the letter are President-General, Ogoni Youth Federation, Legborsi Yamaabana; Leader of Ogoni Ex-Militants Forum, Prince Mahmud Kirika; Hon. Walter Ejire, Stakeholder, Eleme Youths, Walter Ejire; Chairman of Ijaw Youth Council Eastern Zone, Ibim Ibiwari; and Publicity Secretary of Rivers State Ethnic Youth Leaders Coalition (RSEYLC), Tamunobelema Tamunoimama.
“The protest which shall last for several weeks is as a result of the following: Failure of the Federal Government to commence work on the Ogoni axis of the east-west road.
“Failure to transfer the East-West road from the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) as directed by the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Recall that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had during Ogoni leaders’ visit on him in State House on the October 22, 2021, directed that the Ogoni axis of the east west road be transferred to the PIDF to ensure completion and delivery of the project within the lifespan of this current administration. Regrettably, more than three months after, this directive is yet to be complied with.
“For the records, Ogoni Youth Federation demonstrated and carried out several peaceful protests over the deplorable state of this road, chief among which was the 7-days long protest which lasted from July 26 to August 1, 2021”, they said.
Continuing, they said ‘’we wrote a letter dated November, 11, 2021 to the Chief of Staff to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requesting the official transfer of the road from Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund but our request fell on deaf ears, as we do not get the mere courtesy of a response from the office of the Chief of State. Attached herewith is a copy of the letter. We view this as an attempt to neglect, hoodwink and ridicule us.
“Going by the 2022 budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, as signed by the President, it is obvious that the ministry does not have the required money to fund the east-west road project, as such the Presidential directive of the transfer of the road to PIDF should be strictly complied with in the interest of all stakeholders.
“Recall that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) recently released the sum of N621bn for construction of roads across the country and to our greatest chagrin, this road that leads to two refineries own by the NNPC was deliberately excluded. This is an injustice of the highest order and it is not acceptable!”
They pointed out that every Nigerian citizen whether acting individually or in concert with others, reserves the right to associate, protest, organise a rally, assemble in meetings, and participate in public processions and demonstrations which are expressions of the Constitutional right to peaceful assembly and association as guaranteed under Sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended), and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The youths promised that the protest shall be peaceful, non-violent, carried out within the ambit of the law and shall not lead to a breach of public peace.