The youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo has questioned the rationale behind the decision of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund- PTDF to disenfranchise the entire SouthEast from the 2022 Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS).
The PTDF recently shortlisted 8,800 candidates for the 2022 Overseas Scholarship Scheme (OSS), from a pool of over 26 000 applicants.
The Manager of the OSS, Bello Mustapha, had said the PTDF could not hold interviews for its scholarships in the South-east but did so successfully in the North-east and North-west.
The PTDF official had explained that due to insecurity in the region, candidates in the south-east were advised to pick centres outside the region to enable them participate in the interview process.
Reacting to the development, the Youth wing of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, through its Publicity Secretary, Chile Art Adiele, queried the PTDF decision to deny the Igbo youths of such National Empowerment Program on the flimsy basis of Insecurity.
He wondered if such parastatal is meant to promote National cohesion or disintegration.
“Just a few weeks ago in Northwest, bandits attacked a train said to be carrying close to 1,000 passengers from Kaduna enroute Abuja, the nation’s capital situated in the North Central region of the country.
“More than eight people, including a promising young Igbo lady who is a medical doctor Chinelo were killed.
“More than 168 passengers are yet to be accounted for and many are still in the custody of their abductors, with an ultimatum having been issued by the criminals warning the Federal Government to meet their terms or risk picking the dead bodies of these innocent passengers who from different tribes in Nigeria and at least one foreigner, from the forests.
“In the last few months, more than 100 incidents of violent crimes have been recorded in the Northwest, with Kaduna being the epicenter of all sorts of insecurity.
“Such is the spate of insecurity in the Northwest that the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari has had to cancel at least one of his planned official trips to a State in the Northeast allegedly, due to unfavourable security reports.
“From Borno to Adamawa, up to Yobe, ISWAP, Boko Haram terrorists and disparate criminal gangs are annexing territories, collecting taxes from indigenes and killing our security agents for fun.
“The World Food Program, WTF, has recently warned that more than 8.7 Million people are food insecure in the Northeast, while two Million people are internally displaced in just Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.
“Many innocent people are still unaccounted for in these areas since they were abducted by these seemingly invincible terrorists.
“Bandits, cattle rustlers and terrorist herdsmen have killed more than a hundred people in Benue, Niger and Kogi, in the last six months.
“Farmers are afraid to go to their farms, some who dared plant, cannot harvest their crops for fear of themselves being harvested by the bloodthirsty killers. “Whole villages and communities are under the control of bandits, who collect taxes, rape young girls and women and kill breadwinners, almost on daily basis.
“From Ondo to to Oyo, up to Ogun and Lagos, travelers and residents move around, literally with their hearts in their hands.
“The Lagos-Ibadan expressway is notoriously infested with bandits and terrorist herdsmen and other criminals with different intentions and motivations.
“The creeks of the Niger-Delta are reeking with blood of innocent people and the while bones and skulls are buried in its swamps. “From Bayelsa to Akwa-Ibom, a day hardly passes without one sad news of death or kidnapping.
“From Rivers to Edo State, criminals are on rampage and urchins are kings.
“In the Southeast, we have criminals parading as Biafran agitators, enforcing illegal sit-at-home orders and harassing innocent people.
“Yes, we have our own share of the national malady: insecurity – but ours is not worse than that of others,” he related.
The Ohaneze noted that at least, all State capitals in the Southeast are safe, like in other parts of Nigeria.
They noted that the recently concluded Party congresses and primaries took place in the Southeast without any single incident of violence leading to fatality.
The group maintained that it is therefore inexcusable and highly mischievous that the Chairman of PTDF would give an order for the Southeast to be excluded from the recently released shortlist of 2022 batch of PTDF scholarship beneficiaries on the basis of INSECURITY.
“The story that this exclusion was informed by the insecurity in the Southeast is not only witless but felonious.
“We consider this a clear demonstration of the well orchestrated persecution of the Southeast by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“We call on all well-meaning Nigerians, religious and traditional leaders, the National Assembly and indeed all men and women of conscience to rise up and speak against this dangerous injustice against the Southeast by calling the Management of PTDF to do the needful and expeditiously accomodate conduct their interview in SouthEast,” they insisted.
The statement warned that reiterate that Igbos cannot be pushed out of the exercise, no matter the guise under which the conspirators aim to do it.
The Igbo youths demanded that the PTDF disproves their suspicion of the attempts to excise the Southeast from Nigeria, by directing an immediate redress of the exclusion by the management of the PTDF.
“A new date must be quickly scheduled for the many qualified Southeast candidates to participate in this empowerment program and benefit alongside their contemporaries from other parts of the Country,” they concluded.