- Ex-militants Express Solidarity With Anticipated Protest Action
- Urge Federal Govt Not To Release IOC’s $1.6bn To NDDC
Tension is mounting over a possible shutdown of activities across the Niger Delta states as the one-month ultimatum given by various youth groups in the oil-rich region for the federal government to inaugurate the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is expected to elapse tomorrow’s midnight, May 25.
However, there are no signs that the federal government is in any way ready to do the needful as requested by the people of the Niger Delta.
As the ultimatum terminates in the next 24 hours, an ex-agitator and leader of the Phase Three of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Comrade Ebi John, has expressed support for the planned protest and total shutdown of the Niger Delta should the federal government failed to inaugurate the board of the NDDC.
The ex-agitator, Ebi John alerts all international oil companies operating in the region to stop further remittance of the outstanding $1.6bn accruable to the commission until a substantive board is inaugurated.
According to him, “Peace is not negotiable. However we have patiently waited enough for the board to be inaugurated. All measures to negotiate for the new board have fell on deaf ears. We perceive a celebrate delay on the inauguration due to the accrued $1.6bn that is to be remitted by IOC’s to the commission.”
He added that “any attempt by any quarter to sabotage the peaceful measures adopted to shutdown the region will only add salt to injury. We therefore advise zero interference until the needful is done.”
It would be recalled that the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, had given a one month ultimatum beginning from April 25, 2021 for the federal government to inaugurate the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, failure which, they promised, they cannot guarantee safety of oil operations in the Niger Delta.
The IYC led by its President, Comrade Peter Igbifa, vowed to shutdown the entire Niger Delta, adding that they may not be able to guarantee the safety of oil operations in the Niger Delta region, should the federal government fails to inaugurate the board of the Commission within the ultimatum which expires midnight of May 25.
Igbifa had said then: “Council has resolved that we are giving the Federal Government, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, one month ultimatum to close-out on the Board inauguration for the NDDC. We consider NDDC a very critical agency for us in this region. And for this cause, we want to make it clear that between now (April 25) and the one month if the Board is not brought in we may not be able to guarantee the safety of oil operations in the region.”
Another youth group which also handed over ultimatum to the federal government was a coalition made up of representatives from the Niger Delta Youth Council, NDYC and the Concerned Women in the Oil Producing Region, CWOPR. The coalition also gave a 28 day ultimatum which is due to expire at the end of May.
The coalition which comprised hundreds of youths and women, last week gave the ultimatum, urging that the board be inaugurated to avoid another scenario akin to the EndSARs protest.
The group led by its coordinator, Comrade Jator Abido, which addressed newsmen in Warri, Delta State about a month ago, said if the board is not inaugurated as demanded within that time, “we will have no option than to shut down the economy of the region to ensure that no proceeds goes to the national treasury for sharing.”
Also, a group, Niger Delta-based group, the Niger Delta Peoples’ Forum has expressed its disappointment in the manner in which the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has converted the Commission to his personal estate.
In a statement last month, the group called on the President to heed the counsel of stakeholders of the region who have demanded the speedy inauguration of a substantive Governing Board for the commission.
The national chairman of the group, Comr. Boma Ebiakpo, while addressing newsmen in Warri, expressed disgust in the manner Godswill Akpabio has run the NDDC illegally for two years, adding that the minister has turned the Commission into a cesspool of fraud as he has converted the management to a one-man show.
“It is inconceivable that under any guise the NDDC is being run by illegal Interim Sole Administrators for almost two years now. Many of the people who were deceived by Akpabio to support his Interim Management contraption have since realized that it has become an avenue for the perpetration of fraud, as was revealed during the July 2020 National Assembly probe, along with financial recklessness and mismanagement, especially since the interim managements are not beholden to anyone but Akpabio.
“The NDDC has become Akpabio’s one-man show where he has successfully imposed his cronies as the interim administrators to fritter away the resources of the commission.
“The minister has employed the mention of a so called “forensic audit” of previous managements as a weapon to hijack the NDDC claiming, rather strangely, that a substantive Board should not be inaugurated for the NDDC in line with the NDDC Act until his so called unending “forensic audit” of a previous period is concluded.
“In the meantime, he and his handpicked interim managers have helped themselves to over N800 billion NDDC money in the last 18 months while pretending to be carrying out the so called ‘forensic audit”, the group said.
Speaking on the phone with one of the Youth Leaders from Bomadi in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, Comrade Gilor Kelly said all is set to go ahead with the planned protest against the failure of federal government to inaugurate the board of the NDDC.
Kelly who disclosed that the special dress code for the protest will be red vest on white shorts, further said that apart from IYC, there are several other youth bodies from different parts of Niger Delta that will participate in the action.
He said: “The protest will hold and the dress code is red vest on white shorts or trousers. And I want to use this medium to urge President Buhari to dissolve the sole-administration and inaugurate the new board of the Commission immediately so that the tension building up will come down.
“If the inauguration does not take place, the demonstration may lead to breach of security. Orher parts of the country as at now have security challenges. If the Niger Delta is also affected by security challenge it means the country is gone.
“I urge the President to inaugurate the board of the Commission to douse the rising tension in the Niger Delta region as a result of peoples protest against the manner the way the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio is handling the affairs of the NDDC.”