By Emma Amaize
PORT HARCOURT – A coalition of campaigners under the auspices of 21st Century Youths of Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience, weekend, notified President Muhammadu Buhari of their plan to take over both the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, headquarters in Port Harcourt and East-West Road if he did not inaugurate the governing Board of the Commission.
The coalition had, last week, given President Buhari, a 14-day ultimatum to dissolve the Interim Management Committee, IMC.
Leader of the group, self-styled “General” Izon Ebi, who maintained that Buhari’s silence has become too cold for comfort, said in a statement, “We demand that the board of the commission be inaugurated so as to move the commission and the region forward.”
“We demand the immediate sack of the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who instead of being an agent of development in the region has become an agent of confusion to the detriment of the people of the Niger Delta.
“We also demand immediate payment of contractors whose jobs have been duly verified; publishing of names of serial looters in the commission and contractors that been mobilized but refused to deliver in the job being paid for and sack of staff and directors of the commission who are in cahoots with contractors to impoverish our people,” he asserted.
He stated, “To this end, we wish to state categorically that if our demands are not addressed immediately, we will have no other option but to occupy the Commission and the East-West road.”
According to him, “We use this medium to urge Mr President to do the needful to stop the agitation from getting out of hands and getting to the creeks. The President’s silence on this issue is not golden and further diminishes his avowed stand in the rule of law and separation of powers”
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“We will use this avenue to let the world know the plight of the region until a time when our grievances will be duly addressed by firstly the inauguration of the screened and confirmed board,” he added.
His words, “It is important for us to come out loud to intimate Nigerians and also call on Mr President to urgently do the needful. After an emergency meeting of key stakeholders and agitators concerning the peaceful protest in the NDDC, and the current happenings at the commission, the 21st Century Youths and other like-minded agitators have come to the conclusion that the imbroglio at the commission is a deliberate action to further impoverish the Niger Delta and its people.”
“This is due to the fact that for the past years, it has been motion without movement that led to Mr President ordering a forensic audit and probe of the commission. Genuine contractors whose jobs have been duly ascertained are been held and thus sending some of them to their early graves. The commission has become stagnant depriving the people of the region of its accruable benefits because of political infighting and showmanship by political actors in the region.
“Meanwhile, in other development agencies like the North East Development Commission, deliberate efforts are being made to ameliorate the plight of the people through the award of contracts and other people-oriented programs.
“The 21st Century Youths and Agitators with Conscience hereby state that we will not be hoodwinked any further. We appreciate Mr President for instituting a forensic audit of the commission. We also appreciate Mr President’s effort for instituting a board of the commission with capable sons and daughters of the region to steer the commission, but we are averse to the comatose state of the commission due to political shenanigans and subterfuge,” he said.