The new “All Ijaw Youths Conference”, bringing together all the Ijaws in the Niger delta area in southwest Nigeria, have given a joint ultimatum to multinational oil firms to leave their land this year or face unspecified action, Reuters reported. “We demand that all oil companies stop all exploration and exploitation activities in the Ijaw area. We are tired of gas flaring, oil spillages and blowouts and being labelled saboteurs and terrorists,” a statement released on Monday said.
The new group rejected Nigerian military leader General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s plan to end military rule in May saying it failed to address the fundamental demand to restructure the Nigerian federation.
Disgruntlement among local youths in the oil-rich area has increased dramatically since the 1995 hanging of human rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight other Ogoni activists, who had campaigned against the alleged pollution by the oil giant, Shell.
A Shell spokesman in London told IRIN today that the Ijaws’ accusations against multinational oil companies were “factually inaccurate”, but the company “sympathised with the political grievances and developmental concerns”. He added that Shell had invested US $30 million a year in the region in rehabilitating schools, supplementing wages of teachers and doctors, providing drinking water and other development oriented projects.
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