A Niger Delta based Environment Monitoring Group, FACE Initiatives has attributed the failed policies of the State and Federal Government for the increased participation of indigenes of the Niger Delta region in pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering along the water ways and creeks of the state.

The FACE Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, which conducted a Sustainable Livelihood Assessment (SLA) in target communities in Bayelsa and Rivers States in collaboration with the Bayelsa States Ministries Agriculture, Environment and Budget and Planning for over Eight months, declared that 73 per cent of the people of the Nine States of the region alleged that the failed policies of the State Government is responsible for their participation in vandalism, bunkering and artisanal refining as a source of livelihood.

The Director of the Face Initiatives, Inatimi Odio, in Yenagoa during a workshop titled “Alternative Livelihood for Grassroots Communities in Bayelsa”, the investigations showed that there is increasing loss of livelihood following hydro-carbon pollution on livelihood sources – forest, farmlands, ocean and other water bodies and it has led to unemployment in communities”

“The inaction of the central, state and local government towards the development of the people and the collapse of the local government system has also led to community groups engaging in vandalism, bunkering and artisanal refining as a source of livelihood and or a way to get back at the federal government. Vandalism, bunkering and artisanal refining have become a lucrative business for youth and other community groups”.

“Significant number of respondents, about 49% were not satisfied with government action in ending vandalism, bunkering and artisanal refining. The remaining 51% were satisfied at varying degree. It was noticeable that over 50% of respondent from Agbi (Eleme), Mogho (Gokana), Ondewari, Peretorugbene communities are not satisfied with government action. FGDs also revealed that security agencies are involved in vandalism, bunkering and artisanal refining, as they provide cover for youth involved in this act, and therefore does not justify their act in trying to end it”.

“Government response in the provision of alternative livelihood is low. About 70% were not at all satisfied with government response to livelihood, about 18% were a little satisfied and only 7% of the respondent were moderately, very and extremely satisfied with government actions toward promoting alternative livelihood. The research also shows that there is high likelihood of persons involved in vandalism, bunkering and artisanal refining to embrace alternative livelihood, as most persons engaging in such act gets involved in it basically to earn an income in the absence of other livelihood opportunities”

Inatimi Odio however called on the State and Federal Government to review its policies on agriculture should be reviewed to take into cognisance the geographical and cultural peculiarities of the various regions to make them applicable and beneficial to the people in the Niger Delta, ”The criterion for accessing credit facilities should be relaxed in view of the riverine nature of region to enable people in riverine communities’ benefit from government programme”.

“National policies on agriculture should be reviewed to take into cognisance the geographical and cultural peculiarities of the various regions to make them applicable and beneficial to the people in the Niger Delta. The criterion for accessing credit facilities should be relaxed in view of the riverine nature of region to enable people in riverine communities’ benefit from government programme”.

“Identify and work with credible grassroots NGOs/CBOs SMEs and functional agricultural associations to reach targeted beneficiaries (real farmers) while implementing livelihood interventions.

Conscious investment on the provision of social amenities including power, transport (boat/ferry), roads and communication infrastructure to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive”.