Youths in the Niger Delta region have issued a 14-day ultimatum to oil and gas companies operating in the region to comply with the Federal Government directive on the funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Section 14B of the NDDC Act stipulates that oil companies operating in the region should pay three percent of their annual capital budget to the commission.
But the youths, who spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Wednesday under the auspices of the Niger Delta Youth Stakeholders Forum, observed that the oil companies had refused to pay NDDC the funds as stipulated by law since 2000.
National Coordinator of the group, Mr. Edisemi Yiki, warned that the youths would embark on sustained protest against the oil firms if they (oil companies) failed to pay NDDC the money accruing to them.
Explaining that the group had written a letter to the companies without getting any response, Yiki stated that the refusal of the firms to release the funds could force the youths back to the creeks.
“The gas processing companies have turned a deaf ear to the provisions of the NDDC Act as it relates to its funding. Section 14B of the NDDC Act provides for the payment of three per cent of annual capital budgets of all oil producing and gas processing companies in the region.
“From our findings, we discovered that the gas processing companies have failed to comply with these provisions and as such has committed an economic crime against the people of the region who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the NDDC.
“In the light of the above, we are calling on the gas processing companies to comply with the provisions of the NDDC Act and pay whatever amount of money owed NDDC since the year 2000 till date within two weeks.
“Failure to comply with our demand will push us to explore every legitimate means, including sustained protest against the erring oil firms to see that the money is released,” Yiki said.
He, however, expressed worry that the NDDC could go bankrupt and extinct within the next five years if nothing was done to improve the funding of the commission.
Yiki said, “The partial compliance by some oil producing companies with the provisions of the Act inhibits the developmental programme of the commission, which could erode the gains so far recorded.”