Ijaw Youths Stakeholders from the Nine States of the Niger Delta region have concluded plan to convene an enlarged meeting of members of the umbrella body of Ijaw Youths worldwide, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), ethnic nationality bodies and other Civil Society groups in the region to deliberate on the suspended protest to shut down the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over the tenure of the Interim Administrator, Mr. Akwa Effiong.
Already, some of the Governors and National Assembly members from the region have indicated their readiness to support the meeting and the planned protest to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari appoint a substantive board as provided under the NDDC Act.
It was gathered that the decision to call for an enlarged meeting of stakeholders and IYC clan heads on the planned protest was based on the way and manner the protest was put on hold in January, 2021 to give room to the promises made by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio on a new timeline for the appointment of a substantive board.
A senior member of the Ijaw Youths leadership argued that the four months tenure of the Sole Administrators is a dismal failure, “it is sad to note that even the NDDC under this sole administrator, Mr Akwa has not done anything significant that will put smiles on the faces of the Niger Delta people despite the huge resources at his disposal.”
“Up till now, what he promised the region has not been met. Genuine contractors who’ve completed their jobs are still not paid. Some of this payments are billow a hundred million which would’ve agitated the micro economy of the region and consolidate the fragile peace, but No! Payments are been discreet and selective and our people are not happy. No youth engagement/empowerment programs and rumors have it that there already surreptitious moves to extend his tenure. That will not be acceptable”.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio was quoted last month promising that a substantive board will be appointed in April, 2021 by which time the forensic auditors have submitted their report to the Federal Government. According to the IYC,”What we have gathered from the new timeline is the fact that the Sole Administrator, Mr. Akwa Effiong have a four months tenure to remain in office” .
“Though we have observed that the past promises made by the Federal Government on the issues of NDDC, Amnesty office, the East-West road, and other issues concerning our development, have never been fulfilled.”
“We are irrevocably committed to ensuring that a substantive board for the NDDC with fair representation of the Nine member states of the region making up the Commission is immediately constituted as enshrined in the act.”
“Payment of indigenous contractors whose monies are still tied down in the commission despite the completion of such projects. And other priority project that will stimulate the economy of the Niger delta region. Finally, moving forward the IYC inwardly will continue to monitor and ensure that the just approved 2020 budgetary provisions accrued to the NDDC and ensure that what is just is done for the people of the region”.
Contacted on the development, the Spokesman of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, confirmed that the National Executive Council of the IYC will be meeting soonest to deliberate on the issue of a resumed protest based on the quoted promise of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio on the April timeline” We are already in April and we’ve not heard anything and our people have started asking questions. But we’ve assured them that the struggle for a substantive board with equal representation of the nine member states in the region is not negotiable and we are taking the Minister by his words.”