Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has challenged leadership of the pan-Ijaw youth group, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to achieve meaningful dialogue with the federal government in its effort to redress years of neglect and underdevelopment of the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta.
Senator Diri, who gave the charge on Thursday in Yenagoa during a meeting with members of the Central Zone of the IYC, stressed that they should jettison militancy to pursue the legitimate demands of the people.
The governor, in a press release issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, noted that the governors and people of the Niger Delta were at the stage of asking the federal government to implement true federalism where states would control their resources and pay taxes to the central government.
His words: “We are in a federation where resources from one region are taken to Abuja on monthly basis to be shared with places that have created more local governments for themselves. And these resources are shared according to local governments. The federal government also controls 87 per cent of the resources.”
Senator Diri also made reference to the lopsidedness at the Niger Delta Development Commission with membership of the body cutting across board in the country and charged the IYC to focus their attention to such issues that have bedeviled the region.
He however expressed delight that the present crop of IYC leadership was evolving from the era of deploying militancy and violent means to adopting meaningful engagement to make its voice heard.
While promising his administration’s support to the leadership of the IYC, the governor urged its members to work with government and other stakeholders, particularly in the area of empowering the youths through agriculture, skills acquisition as well as small and medium scale enterprises.
He decried the situation whereby Bayelsans, particularly the youths were not in control of the local economy as the state is not engaged in any productive activity, and urged the IYC to change the narrative.
Commending the IYC for its efforts at enthroning peace, stability and sustainable development in the Niger Delta, Senator Diri said the gesture signals a new dawn in the operations of the IYC and charged the body not to see its position as a gold mine but that of service to uplift the standard of living of the people.
In his speech, chairman of the IYC Central Zone, Comrade Clever Inodu, said the youth body was working hard to bring about unity, towards achieving peace and development for the people.
To this end, he presented a three-year working template for the empowerment of youths to the governor, noting that their yearning for resource control, education and investments could only be achieved when there is peace, unity and stability.
Comrade Inodu, who noted that they had met with key leaders in the zone towards developing agriculture to engage the youths, also intimated the governor on some of their challenges, which he said included funding and operational vehicle.