NDDC board: Ijaw elders’ intervention fails as IYC insists on protest

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By Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt

The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has rejected the appeal by its parent body, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) to call off its ongoing protest against the refusal of the Federal Government to inaugurate the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Rising from their meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the elders called for the suspension of the current and further planned mass actions by the IYC and other Niger Delta agitators.

The INC said its appeal was to enable it to interface with critical stakeholders to avert renewed hostilities in the region.

The INC, however, called on the Federal Government to immediately inaugurate the NDDC board to reduce the brewing tension in the region.

A statement released by the INC after its meeting was signed by its President, Benjamin Okaba; National Secretary, Ebipamowei Wodu and Publicity Secretary, Ezonebi Oyakemeagbegha.

The statement said: “The INC express concern about the growing tension in Ijaw land and the Niger Delta region arising from the protests by Ijaw youths and the ultimatum issued by High Chief Government Ekpemupolo and some Niger Delta agitators over the non-constitution of the board of the NDDC.

“The INC recalls that governors of the Niger Delta region had months ago reviewed the matter and called for the constitution of the board of the NDDC which indeed reflect the position of the vast majority of the people of the region.

“There is currently an overwhelming anger over the state of affairs in the NDDC and except President Buhari takes proactive steps, things may go out of hand.

“The INC, as the apex Ijaw organization, worried by the brewing tension in the region has commenced the process of engagement with critical stakeholders with a view to preventing renewed hostilities in Ijaw land and the Niger Delta region.

“However, the INC repeats its earlier demand during the inauguration of the current national leadership on May 14, 2021, for the Board of the NDDC to be constituted as a matter of urgency with a Bayelsan as Managing Director and a Deltan as Chairman in line with the NDDC Establishment Act 2000.

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“The INC leadership calls on Ijaw youths to be calm, while a committee has been set up to investigate the issues arising from the IYC protest and will continue with the engagement of relevant stakeholders with a view to addressing the issue of constitution of the board of the NDDC and the award of new marginal oil fields.”

But the President of IYC, Peter Timothy Igbifa, commended the elders for their intervention but said the youths would continue with the protest pending the inauguration of the NDDC.

He said the youths had given the federal government and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, a reasonable time to address the injustice and unfairness in the management of the NDDC insisting that there was no going back on the protest.

Igbifa called on all the youths to remain resolute, focused and committed in their agitation for a board that would drive the development of the region.

“The only thing that will stop further protest is the immediate inauguration of the NDDC board. In the absence of the board, our protest continues. Our elders have tried and we appreciate their intervention.

“But we appeal to them to prevail on Akpabio and the Federal Government to quickly inaugurate this board. Our agitation is for justice, equity and fairness. Nobody should tell us that it is the forensic audit that is delaying the inauguration of the board. It is a big lie.”

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