By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
A coalition of youth groups in the Niger Delta weekend called on the Federal Government to accede to the amnesty call by oil bunkerers and illegal refinery operators in the region.
The coalition insisted that the illegal refinery operators are not oil thieves as claimed but businessmen providing employment for youths in the region.
Rising from a meeting weekend in Yenagoa held in an undisclosed location, the coalition which called for the release of over 257 arrested by the Joint Task Force and other security agencies noted that their continued arrest will not stop the over a million locally operated refineries in the region but promote unemployment, violence and sea piracy.
The coalition in an online statement called on President Gooodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly to review the amnesty call by local refinery operators as their activities constitute serious threat to the nation our economy.
The meeting, according to the convener,Comrade Ozobo Austin, National ¬†President of the Ijaw People Development Initiative, (IPDI) urged the Federal Government to capitalize on the ¬†request for Amnesty by illegal refinery operators in the Niger Delta as employment and empowerment opportunities to the youths of the region.
According to the coalition, ‚Äúthe federal government should seize this opportunity to end the oil theft and pipe line vandalism with the approval of the Amnesty request and the payment of empowerment and employment stipends to the operators and hundreds of youths involved in the alleged illicit trade.
‚ÄúThe decision, if accepted by the Federal Government should also involve the release of hundreds of members arrested by the Joint Task Force in the six states of the South South.‚Äù
The operators involvement in the local refineries and bunkering activities was to help create job for millions of jobless Nigerians across the country, the coalition noted adding, ‚ÄúWe want to also frown at the military option against the operators instead ¬†the government should encourage the operators for generating employment for the common Nigerians which the country can not offer employment.‚Äù
The ‚Äòlocal‚Äô refinery operators, the coalition argued are better placed to receive amnesty offer compare to the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist sect.
In his opinion, Comrade Austin Ozobo said the operation of the illegal refinery give its operators sense of belonging, as it serves as the only way oil communities benefits from the oil wealth accruing from their land to the government coffers.
‚ÄúThere is the need for legal backing for the local refinery operators in the country. What we want the federal government to do is to critically examine such refineries with a view to ¬†making use of them to meet the country need of refined petroleum products.
‚ÄúThis meeting became imperative due to the looming dangers on the continued military attacks on the self employed ¬†persons and the reverse effects of the the precarious impeding hunger among the operators whose-livelihood is being destroyed.‚Äù