Bayelsa State Government has called on its founding fathers and elders to be more vociferous in their support of the struggle for restructuring of the country and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Governor Douye Diri, who stated this during a quarterly meeting of the Bayelsa Elders Council, also urged them to support his administration’s ongoing urban renewal programme to give Yenagoa, the state capital, a befitting look.
The governor, who declared the meeting at the Niger Delta Wetlands Centre in Yenagoa, restated the state government’s preparedness to identify with any worthy cause aimed at addressing the injustice and imbalances in the body politic of Nigeria.
Represented by his Deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, he attributed the unrelenting agitations for secession by some ethnic nationalities to absence of justice, fairness and equity in the country.
The governor, while advising the elders to be courageous and united at all times, Ewhrudjakpo urged them to expand their lobbying across ethnic lines to advance the cause for equitable representation in all federal agencies and institutions.
He expressed hope that the passage and eventual implementation of the PIB would go a long way in addressing the issue of short-changing host communities in the sharing of oil and gas proceeds mainly generated from the Niger Delta.
‘When we talk about the issue of restructuring, we will need the elders to make it more effective. So, we enjoin you individually and collectively to take advantage of your outreach spread beyond Bayelsa to help us in the struggle.
‘Our doors are open for your useful suggestions and advice. If there are urgent issues of interest to the Ijaw Nation, and particularly Bayelsa, please don’t hesitate to knock on our doors.
‘On the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, we believe that, in no distant time, when the current industrial action by the Parliamentary Workers Union is over, the bill will be passed.
‘The state has made direct presentation and we believe that what we have proposed is quite representative enough of our interest, aspirations and desires.
‘We believe that if the bill is passed, our situation will not be the same again and there will be an improvement from what we are getting now. We also believe that our elders can do the necessary lobbying while we do our own.’
On his Urban Renewal Programme, Governor Diri urged the residents of Yenagoa who have illegal structures erected on government’s land and right of way to remove them or risk forceful demolition with its attendant consequences.