Former Ijaw Youth Council President urges Wike to tread carefully in war against illegal refineries


A former President of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, Engr. Udengs Eradiri, has appealed to the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, to tread with caution in his ongoing war against illegal refineries and oil bunkering.

Eradiri, a two-time Commissioner in Bayelsa State, said adopting brute force to stop illegal refineries, blamed for the soot in Rivers, could only worsen the situation instead of addressing the problem.

Commending Governor Wike for his bold steps, Eradiri urged him to adopt a broader strategic stakeholders engagement in dealing with the menace to avoid creating another cycle of armed struggle in the region.
He averred that if the situation were not effectively and cautiously managed, the many myriads of youths already engaged in the illegal activities for survival, could be forced to acquire arms to fight back.

Eradiri, who spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Tuesday, recalled that the banditry in Zamfara State started when authorities adopted a wrong approach to dislodge hungry youths from gold mining sites.
He said the problem later came under control when reason prevailed and authorities decided to set up a committee to harmonise gold mining licenses for the locals.

He advised that the same approach adopted by the Federal Government in Zamfara in giving the locals an opportunity to benefit from the natural resources in their domain, should be extended to the people of Niger Delta.

Eradiri said economic exclusion, hunger, unemployment, high cost of petroleum products, the supply-demand gap of products caused by dysfunctional government-owned refineries and hopelessness were factors fueling the establishment of illegal refineries.

He urged Governor Wike to work with the Federal Government to tackle the problem adding that the government had already set up a committee headed by Senator Eta Enang to harmonise the issues in the region.

“The Governor of Rivers State has demonstrated courage in declaring this war against illegal bunkering and crude cooking of crude oil to protect the people he has sworn to govern. I however, appeal to him to exercise caution because the problem has grown beyond imagination following the myriad of youths involved in it.

It has now become a cartel and it requires strategic engagement to dismantle it without creating another cycle of violence in the region”, he said.


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