Dickson warns Bayelsa youths against cultism, other vices

…Two feared dead in rivalry over pipeline jobs

The Governor of Bayelsa State, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, Tuesday advised youths of the state to resist any temptation to disrupt the peace of the state by involving in cult or other related vices.

Dickson spoke even as it was learnt that at least two persons had lost their lives in Ondewari, a coastal settlement in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, following clashes between two rival gangs over who should get a pipeline surveillance contract in the area.

A statement by Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, the governor’s Special Adviser on Media Relations, said Dickson made the comment while addressing youths at the Oxbow Lake Pavilion during a musical concert organised by the State Ministry of Tourism.

The governor noted that his administration was against youth involvement in cult-related activities and called on them to collaborate with the government and other stakeholders to actualise the desired development and stability of the state.

“Don’t allow people to mislead you. Say no to those who want you to join cults. We don’t want to see our young people getting involved in cultism.”

He added: “You guys are important to us and your happiness is key to the prosperity, development and stability that we have been working hard to see in this state.

“Let me remind you all, the young people of this state, that we are interested in your future, that everything we are doing in this government: the schools we are building, the other facilities we are putting in place are all for your future because you are the most important people in this government.”

Governor Dickson promised that the state government would ensure the organisation of an annual musical event of top Bayelsa artistes and others at the Ox Bow lake pavilion in Yenagoa.

Meanwhile, some residents of Ondewari, were said to have fled, with several spending the festivities in the bushes, following clashes between rival gangs in which two persons were feared dead.

A resident and environmentalist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, told journalists in Yenagoa that the community had been deserted since the crisis commenced last Sunday.

While urging relevant security agencies to intervene and restore peace to the community, Morris said two people in the community died in similar circumstances last July.

“Our pain is that this crisis was avoidable; the community leadership had cried out to state government and had drawn the attention of the security agencies to the raging issues bordering on pipeline surveillance jobs at oilfields in the area, but nothing happened.

“The situation would have been nipped in the bud, but here we are, four youths have been lost to the oil industry-induced conflict that has left the community mourning.”

According to him, efforts are on at the community level to resolve the crisis.

Also, acting Paramount Ruler of the community, Chief Peresho Erefawari, decried the frequent clashes by armed gangs in the area and urged the security agencies to intervene.

“The clash was caused by a protest by some youths in the community who were aggrieved over their exclusion in the petroleum pipeline protection jobs in the area.

“We have tried in vain to broker a truce so that peace will prevail, but to no avail,” he said.

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