By Davies Iheamnachor, Port-Harcourt
Youths from the Ijaw extraction in the Niger Delta region have shut down the Corporate Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, over the failure of the Federal Government to constitute a substantive board for the commission.
The over 600 youths, who are members of the Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, hoisted the council’s flag, cocking, eating, dancing, and singing solidarity songs in front of the new NDDC office on Eastern bypass.
This was happening as the President, IYC, Worldwide, Peter Igbifa, regained freedom from his abductors.
The protest halted all activities at the Headquarters and stalled human and vehicular movements in the area.
Speaking, the Assistant Secretary, IYC, Eastern Zone, Ibiso Harry, revealed that the protest was directed by the IYC President, Peter Igbifa, following the expiration of the deadline given to the FG to constitute a substantive board of the NDDC.
He said: “We are here under the directive of the IYC President to shut the NDDC complex after the expiration given to the Federal Government to constitute a substantive NDDC board expired yesterday (Wednesday).
“We believe that instead of an Interim Management or caretake committee a well-constituted board will be better placed to address the underdevelopment in the Niger Delta region.”
However, Igbifa expressed regrets over the attitude of some members of his executive committee, led by the Spokesperson of the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, for holding a meeting with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Igbifa, who disowned them, said Ekerefe and others were never authorised for the meeting and that whatever agreement they reached with Akpabio was not binding on IYC and the Ijaw nation.
He said: “Whatever meeting they held without me is null and void. I didn’t authorise the meeting and its outcome is not binding on IYC and the Ijaw nation. We have taken a decision and that is final. It is a board or nothing.
“What are they even doing in Abuja? I know the kind of pressure I faced and bogus offers I got to frustrate this protest, but I turned down all of them because I can’t betray my people and the Niger Delta must move forward. Therefore, they are on their own.”
Igbifa called on Ijaw Youths to troop out en masse for the continuation of the demonstration.
Igbifa, however, confirmed that he was abducted saying the gunmen that took him away wanted him to call off the ongoing protest against the failures of the Federal Government to inaugurate a substantive board NDDC.