Niger Delta youths under the aegis of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) worldwide, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, have shut the state office of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo to protest non-reconstitution of the commission’s board.
IYC lamented that the current Interim board of the commission has over stayed, calling for inauguration of a substantive NDDC board to pilot the affairs of Niger Delta.
The irate protesters numbering more than 500 carried placards with various inscriptions some of which read, “We say no to bad governance,” “Inaugurate substantive NDDC board,” “IOC’s must not remit $1.6 billion to NDDC for now,” “Restructure Nigeria now.”
Others read, “We stand with South-South governors on true federalism,” “IOCs relocate your headquarters back to Niger Delta,” “We seek justice in the NDDC.”
The group which embarked on a peaceful protest in Uyo on Thursday, said that they will not vacate the office premises until an agreement was reached, blaming the Federal Government for not responding to their one-month ultimatum given to them over the reconstitution of a substantive board.
Leader of the protest, Comrade Uruang Solomonking warned the federal government not to remit $1.6 billion to NDDC until a new board was duly constituted in line with the Constitution.
Solomonking, who is the Special Assistant on Petroleum to the President, IYC maintained that the forensic audit used in running the Commission cannot stop the constitution of a substantive board.
He queried why forensic audit did not block billions of naira being remitted to the commission but is being used to forestall a sensitive arm of the commission.
“We are here to say no to bad governance. We are giving the federal government two options to either inaugurate a substantive board of the NDDC or sack Akpabio.
“We know that once the board is put in place we are going to feel a stimulation of development in our areas involving all circle of our influence as Ijaw people.
“We do not want the board to be politicised. we want transparent people and we will not tolerate anyone who will want to rob Peter to pay Paul.”
The Zonal Mobilisation Officer of IYC, Eastern Zone, John Ekang said they have tolerated the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC for quite a long time, lamenting that all the monies approved for states through the Commission cannot found now.
He said that current NDDC does not represent the commission which the region agitated for years back, stressing that the Commission was now being dragged in the mud of politics.
“We are here base on the ultimatum for the constitution of the substantive board of NDDC. We have been tolerating the Interim Management Committee for so long. Every time I approach them, they only talk about forensic report.
“As far as forensic report is concerned, a team of auditors can do the report within three months, but, it has exceeded three months. If they are on forensic audit why does federal government still remitting monies into the commission?
“We came here last month to meet the person in charge of the head office. They told us that there was nobody on ground because the substantive board was not set up.”
Ekang warned against any form of intimidation as they were carrying out their constitutional rights, adding that any effort to suppress them may turn be out worst.
The Clan Chairman, Eastern Obolo of IYC, Comrade Festus Adasi said the group will continue to fight against marginalization and victimisation some elements in the Commission were harbouring against Ijaw people.
He stressed that the kidnapping of their president cannot stop their protest, warning those behind the abduction of their leader to keep him safe and healthy and that outside such condition will trickle chaos.
Meanwhile, Network Advancement Program for Disaster Risk Reduction (NAPDRR) has flayed some opposition forces including the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), trying to scuttle the ongoing forensic auditing of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
IYC youths took to the streets of Niger Delta on Thursday, barricading the NDDC offices across the region in protest over what they described as “delay in constituting the regular Board of the agency.”
In a statement on Thursday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, the NAPDRR President, Hon. Al mustapher Emem Edoho and the Zonal Coordinator, Comrade Uwem Jubril Edukere, the group president condemned the ongoing protests by IYC over the non constitution of the NDDC Board explaining, that such action was capable of distracting the forensic probe.
“The ongoing probe of the Commission would engender peace and development of the region when concluded. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio and the NDDC Sole Administrator, Pastor Effiong Akwa are prominent indigenes of Niger Delta and they mean well for the development of our region.”
“We have strong confidence in them to deliver on the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari, to effectively turn around the agency to fulfill its mandate of addressing challenges of poverty and widespread underdevelopment caused by years of corruption in the NDDC.
“NAPDRR condemns the orchestrated campaigns by the IYC to stage unlawful protests and blockade of the NDDC offices; it is totally wrong, after all the Minister has said the new Board of the Commission would be constituted soon after the forensic auditing is completed,” Edoho stressed.
On Thursday, the IYC youths in alliance with their kinsmen from Ibeno, Eastern Obolo and Oron and other riverine communities in Akwa Ibom state joined others in the region in protest over the delay in constituting the regular Board of the Commission.