The Ijaw Youths, under the auspices of Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum and led by its President, Richard Akinaka, described the plan for cattle colonies as wron-headed.
Akinaka made this known during a press conference in Yenagoa on Saturday while inaugurating the Bayelsa State chapter of PANDLEAF.
The group insisted that it was the responsibility of herdsmen as private business people to take personal responsibility for the advancement of their business interests and not that of the government.
Akinaka said, “As a people, we have taken that position that herdsmen are private business people. Some of us who have private businesses, take private and personal responsibility to advance our business interests.
“If herdsmen want land and spaces to do their business, they should acquire them within any of the states and do their business the way it is done elsewhere all over the world where you have people get ranches for their cattle and people go there to buy cattle for consumption purposes.”
He continued: ” Government does not need to buy land for a private businessman. But if that is what the government wants to do, we are asking for oil and gas colony for our people too.
“We should be given extra reserve right to take full responsibility of our oil and gas industry because that is our area, that is our environment. We suffer environmental problems. So, if they want colony for their cattle, we want colony for our oil and gas business.”
The group also described as “old fashioned” the recent threats of attacks of Oil facilities in the region issued by the militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) over some wrong policies by the Federal Government.
They declared that instead of threats, the people of the Niger Delta region should engage in intellectual struggle in advancing agitations against wrong government policies rather than resorting to old-fashioned idea of armed struggle.
”We strongly believe that the time for armed struggle is over. Life is in phases and so should our struggles be. We must be able to advance our agitations beyond that to the high grounds of intellectual and constructive engagement.”
“In the alternative, we advocate a collective engagement of all stakeholders at a round-table, to forge common positions and fronts for further engagements with the Federal Government”
“We should redirect our energy to advance a common regional fronts in an intellectual manner that will cause people to respect and listen to us. But sometimes, when you see the thing government does, to the shallow-minded, the best thing to do is to go the way of the gun because there are things that are going on that are not right.”
“You see what our host communities are going through, the environmental problems, the Ogoni clean up that has been promised our people, nothing is going on. An impatient mind may say, we must resist these things, they are not right, but our advice to our people is to avert war.”
“War does not solve problem. We have passed through that stage of life, let us see how we can provide leadership and see how we can adopt internationally acceptable standards and advance the cause of our people, that is the stage we are in now.”
“Indeed, we have a cause. One of the greatest problems we have is leadership failure. Our leaders have failed us at different times and one of the reasons is lack of cohesion and unity among them. So, we need that cohesion, we need that unity and synergy to ensure that we are facing government and international oil companies with a common cause.”
He also called on the people of the region to unite in order to prevent factionalisation that had been the bane of the region,”part of the strategies was for the young people in the Niger Delta to participate fully in the political process and not to follow political leaders blindly.”
Akinaka, who urged political leaders in the region to unite to advance the cause of the people, said one of the reasons former President Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election was because he could not point out what he did for the Niger Delta.
Akinaka said, “PANDLEAF calls on all young people in the Niger Delta to participate fully in the political process and not follow political leaders blindly, owing to sheer ethnic chauvinistic sentiments or primordial and vassal political affiliations while advocating for sincerity and commitment on the part of the Federal Government”
“I was challenging someone of the political leaders. One of the greatest things we were able to do to campaign against former President Goodluck Jonathan was to say that six years of Jonathan, we could not point out what he was able to give to us.”
“Goodluck himself acknowledged that that he could not do anything for our people and said that when he came back for second term, he would do something, unforunately, he did not come back. Let those who hold high offices in our region do something to set them apart.”
On the recent killings and the proposed setting up of a Fulani herdsmen colony, the PANDLEAF condemned the killings going on across the country by suspected Fulani herdsmen, calling on the government to put an end to the senseless killings.