The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has called on youths in the Niger Delta to protect oil and gas pipelines in the region, instead of vandalising them, in the course of their demands for justice.
Addressing leaders and members of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, during their courtesy visit to NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, advised youths to work with the Commission as partners for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta.
She said: “The Niger Delta is our own and we must protect our own, including the oil and gas pipelines. The greatest proof of bravery is in the use of brain power to break down walls and move people and institutions to positive action, instead of brawns that cause a breakdown of law and order. For then, we construct rather than destroy.”
Mrs. Semenitari assured that the present focus of NDDC is completion of ongoing projects, adding: “if there is a need for new projects, we will consult with the people. But we must work on completing projects, so that our people will begin to use and enjoy them.”
She stressed that in order to improve on service delivery and bring development closer to the people of Niger Delta, NDDC has started the process of strengthening its State Offices. “Soon, you are going to see more action across the region, through our State Offices,” she said.
Earlier, the IYC President, Comrade Udengs Eradiri, explained that their visit to NDDC was to discuss issues of peace and security in the Niger Delta, noting that youths are central to peace-building. Comrade Eradiri assured the NDDC boss that Ijaw youths will not do anything to destroy the environment.
The IYC President stated that it is wrong to vandalise properties in the course of the region’s engagement with government. “I have always told our youths that destroying pipelines is not a solution to our problems. When we vandalise pipelines and we settle with government, it is our communities that will still suffer the consequences of such vandalism.”
He added: “We are ready to partner with NDDC to enable it deliver improved service to the people of Niger Delta.”
The IYC President reiterated the request to NDDC not to award contracts for new projects at the moment, suggesting that the NDDC should complete all on-going projects. He suggested that new projects should be located in, as well as other forms of incentive provided to, communities that are able to curtail pipeline vandalism.