Monday, 25 May 2015

Ijaw people must return to fishing –Orubebe

A former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, has urged the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta to return to fishing, saying this would reduce the region’s overdependence on oil.

Orubebe said there was a need for the people of the South-South to devise a strategy that would make them to be less dependent on oil resources in order to move the region forward.
He made this suggestion in his presentation at a seminar organised by the Ijaw Professionals Association in Lagos, on Saturday.
Delivering a paper entitled, “The place of the Ijaw in Nigeria: A call for strategic action,” Orubebe said it had become imperative for the region to look inward by diversifying its economy in order to make the oil producing communities less reliant on oil, noting that “oil has been a problem for our people.”
The former minister noted that the people of the region were industrious before the discovery of oil.
He said that the discovery of oil distracted the Ijaw nation from its traditional economy and consequently left the people in poverty.
He said, “Because of oil we have abandoned what God has given us in our environment. Ijaw people naturally are fishermen. But we abandoned what God has given to us and we focused on oil which we don’t have absolute control of. And that is our dilemma. That is what has trapped us.”
The former minister also lamented the years of neglect of the region by successive governments.
He said, “Despite being one of the largest producers of oil in this country, the Ijaw have suffered marginalisation and infrastructural neglect. More than 90 per cent of the communities have yet to be connected with network of roads. Linkage to the national grid for electricity is still a dream.”
In his remarks, the Executive Director, Institute of Communication and Corporate Studies, Dr. Austin Tam George, who was the guest speaker, described the Petroleum Industry Bill as cosmetic, saying the responsibility of maintaining oil resources belong to the Federal Government.
He warned that the PIB would create problems if passed into law.
He said, “The Petroleum Industry Bill makes it as a fundamental objective to disentitle oil producing communities of their rights. These communities will fight for their rights and when they fight for their rights, we are going to have increased regional instability which in a way will cause instability in the country.”
He charged the participants to focus on how to diversify the economy of the Niger Delta region.
SOURCE: punchng