Itsekiri leaders visit Ajube, call for decentralisation of pipeline protection contract


ltsekiri leaders declare and High Chief Bibopere Ajube during the vicit

By Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Notable ltsekiri leaders have joined the call for the decentralization of the pipeline protection contract of the Federal Government to boost Nigeria’s oil production and economy. The Itsekiri leaders led by Hon. Michael Diden spoke to journalists during solidarity visit to High Chief Bibopere Ajube (Shoot-at-sight) at his Agadagba-Obon residence in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State.

Other members of the delegation are Chief (Dr) Godfrey Erewa, Hon. Emasan Mbiake, Hon Solomon Alewinakwi, Hon Zino Onaemo, Hon Victor Egbo Oleemena, Hon Matthew Udenwenkewe and Hon Francis Ariyo

The leader of the delegation, Hon Michael Diden told journalists that their visit to Chief Ajube was motivated by the need for wider consultation and collaboration on issues necessary to move the Niger Delta and Nigeria forward.

He particularly commended High Chief Ajube for the patriotic and selfless leadership he has been providing in his community and issues related to Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.

He also preached for unity in Niger Delta, advocating that the people of the oil producing region should see themselves as one, regardless of the tribal differences.

“We are simply one and the same people. Particularly, the Ijaws and the ltsekiris are closely related. We have a robust history of trade and cultural commonalities. We have identical environmental challenges and shared development aspirations. We are very interrelated and highly dependent on ourselves. All of these make us inseparable.

“So, today, we are literally home away from home. Senior High Chief Ajube is our beloved brother who has given so much of himself to the Niger Delta. We applaud him for his patriotism all this while, and at the just concluded meeting here, we have been able to secure shared assurances to collaborate and work together for a more peaceful and developed Niger Delta,” he added.

Speaking on the current economic challenges confronting the country, Hon. Diden noted that at the root of the problem is the failure of Nigeria to meet targeted oil production.

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He added that this has been compounded by rampant theft of crude oil.

Hon. Diden said the immediate solution is for the Federal Government to heed the call for liberalisation of the of the pipeline production contract as the monopoly granted to one company and one man has so far failed to deliver.

According to him, the Federal Government should remove politics from the pipeline contact by allowing stakeholders in each state of the Niger Delta should be given the responsibility of policing their terrain since they will know the environment and the people more than those coming from outside their areas.

Hon. Diden said if the Federal Government take the advice, Nigeria will not just meet, but exceed the oil production quota in the 2024 budget.

“Today, you can see. The country is passing through a lot of challenges. For instance, the nation’s oil production level is dropping and oil theft is going on unabated in the onshore. It is a trying time for all of us. This foregrounds our position that the federal government pipeline surveillance contract should be liberalised to allow each state to protect oil and gas assets in its domain.

“If we can work together, the current oil production of about 1.422m barrels per day can be scaled up to 3million barrels per day, exceeding the federal government projected output of 1.78 million barrels per day in the 2024 budget.

He also said the Itsekiri leaders have identified Ajube as a worthy partner in the quest for peace and development of the Niger Delta.

“We must think less of ourselves and be active partners in progress. The fact is that, it is expedient for us to make collaborative efforts to move our region forward in a more coherent and peaceful manner devoid of petty sentiments. What we want is peace, security and development.

“If we really want the development of the Niger Delta, then there must be peace. Peace is the only condition and recipe for development. Of course, the ljaws and the ltsekiris may have had rough edges in the past, but the past is gone and gone forever. We must unite towards a brighter future and we have identified High Chief Ajube as a worthy partner in this regard,” Hon Diden said.

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