The protests carried out by youths under the aegis of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing oil and Gas (HOSTCOM) Bayelsa State chapter should be of great concern to progressive minded people of the already deprived Niger Delta region.
The grouse of the youths is that the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board purportedly breached “an agreement” to train youths of Bayelsa state on various skills acquisition training by the board.
It should be noted that the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) was established by the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGICD) of 2010. The Board has the mandate to develop capacity of local supply chain for effective and efficient service delivery to the oil and gas industry without compromising standard. The Act is also to implement and enforce the provision of the NOGICD Act 2010.
Indeed, the NCDMB is critical to the development of the capacities of young Nigerians to enable them participate optimally in the oil and gas industry which was hitherto dominated by expatriates from outside the shores of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Board has set a target of building Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry and other industrial sectors to 70% in 2027.
The above underscores the importance of the NCDMB to the industrialization of Nigeria which is yearning critically for youth capacity development. With its 17-storey headquarters situated in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, the NCDMB has been vanguard in the training of youths across the nation in line with the Act that establishes it in accordance with the Community Content Guidelines .
It is therefore preposterous that youths of Bayelsa state have recently embarked on a sustained protests that have disrupted activities of the Board for some weeks. Consequently, the situation has fuelled rumours that the NCDMB is under pressure to relocate its headquarters from Yenagoa to other place. Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Board, Engr. Simbi Wabote has issued a statement to that effect, denying any such pressure on the Board to relocate.
Our major concern on the protests at the Nigerian Content Tower by the youths is that though groups have the right to protest, their rights should not infringe on the right of others. The disruptions of activities at the premises of the board have affected those doing businesses in the area
It is also believed that some of the multinational companies that are on the verge of relocating their head offices to Bayelsa state and the Niger Delta region are likely going to share offices in that building. The implication is that any time such protest occurs, other companies would be affected.
Therefore, we advise all protesters to consider the rights of others. Barricading the double lane expressway in front of the Content Tower is an infringement on the rights of market women, travellers and other who are going about their normal businesses.
No matter the grievances of those protesting, they should bear it in mind that where the rights of some individuals end, that is where the rights of other individuals and group of persons begin.
The action of the youth also negates the persistent calls on the IOCs by the state government to relocate their offices to their area of operations. The tension created by the protesters evoked fears that can deter would-be investors to the state.
NCDMB is the only visible federal presence in the state for now, and should not be taken for an interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other similar Organisations.
We call on the state Governor Senator Douye Diri and other stakeholders to call for constructive dialogue with youths and the leadership of HOSTCOM.
The state cannot be soliciting and wooing investors on one hand and on the other restiveness of her youths forms a cog on the wheel of her progress. Time for the youths to thread with caution for their demand.