As the call for the reconstitution of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) gathers momentum, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has yet another battle to grapple with.
It will be recalled that the minister assured the people of the region that government would fast-track the process of reconstituting the NDDC board.
While he made the promise, he did not however state whether or not government would continue with the board already nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari or it is appointing another board.
Urhobo youths, under the auspices of the Urhobo Youth Forum for Change (UYFC) in Delta State, are insisting that the only board they will accept is the Pius Odubu and Bernard Okumagba-led board, which has been screened and awaiting swearing-in by the minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
The group noted that the Urhobo nation had maintained a peaceful disposition in the success story of the NDDC over the years and therefore deserve to be accorded its due honour on the NDDC board in the interest of justice, equity and fairness.
The body also asserted that it will be a slap on the face of the Urhobo people for both the federal government and National Assembly to announce a new board when the Pius Odubu and Bernard Okumagba-led executive that was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari and screened by the federal lawmakers has not been inaugurated.
Reacting to the development, the Coordinator of the UYFC, Hon. Eshanekpe Israel, in a statement made available to newsmen in Warri, said the appropriate thing to do in this circumstance was for the president to complete the process he started two years ago by inaugurating the board he personally announced and submitted their names to the National Assembly for screening.
According to the statement:
“We the Urhobo youths wish to commend the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Goodswill Akpabio, for the respect he has accorded High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, our most respected leader of the region by coming to consult with him over the 7-day ultimatum he had issued to the FG to reconstitute the NDDC board.
“We also appreciate the stakeholders who were present at the peace parley for speaking the mind of our people to the visiting minister and other federal government delegation present at the Oporoza meeting held on June 3, 2021, to assuage our people to drop the ultimatum earlier issued by Tompolo to the federal government for the composition of a substantive NDDC board.
“We are pleased to know that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio, had agreed to commence the process of reconstituting a new board on his return to Abuja, but we are insisting that the appropriate step for the minister is to immediately inaugurate the Pius Odubu and Bernard Okumagba-led executive, that had been unveiled and screened for the job.
“They affirmed that anything contrary to this would be interpreted as a slap on the Urhobo people who have been peaceful and law-abiding ìn the region, especially with the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in our areas and have also contributed immensely to the successful stories that had been recorded by NDDC over the years”.
They however appealed that their peaceful nature should not be taken for granted hence, they are appealing to the the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to do the needful by inaugurating the Pius Odubu and Bernard Okumagba-led executive as NDDC board without further delay.