A pressure group, Movement for Just Utilization of Resources in the South East (M-JURSE), has urged the Federal Government to grant oil pipeline protection contracts to youths of host communities.
Mr Stanley Okafor, National Coordinator, M-JURSE, who made the call on Thursday on Awka, said that the move would stem vandalism and oil theft in the region.
He said there was the need for such collaboration with the youths to improve local production and exports, boost revenue accruing to the federation account.
“It has become imperative for the federal government to look inward and into means of integrating the Southeast in main stream of national life.
“This can be done by co-opting the youths as partners in the sourcing and protection of resources found in the region, including infrastructure neccesary for oil exploration production and conveyance.
“The youths are willing and capable of protecting oil infrastructure in the region and granting licence to these youths will be a workable way to check youth restiveness,”he said.
Okafor urged government to conduct environmental impact assessment in Enugu, where coal was exploited years ago when the commodity served as one of the greatest exports of the country.
He said water cannot be drilled in Enugu State as the entire area was hollow underneath.
“We, therefore, hope that government will show sincere interest in assessing the impact of these years of exploitation on the environment and adequately compensate the region,”he said.
Also speaking, Mr Innocent Nduanya, Deputy President, National Youths Council of Nigeria, said that gold deposits and other precious minerals in the Southeast should be exploited with greater coordination and purposes.
“We have abundant geological deposits in Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra Imo and Abia states, and we want the federal government to exploit these resources with youths of the region as partners in progress.
“We need the youths to be engaged so that they can become national vanguards and that way, peace and national identity can gradually be restored.
“We will reach out to necessary organs of the Federal Government to ensure compliance to our demands in a responsible manner,” he said.