…..says the appointment of ex IYC President’ll not stop the agitation for substantive board
By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA Ijaw youths under the aegis of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide on Sunday announced the suspension of the planned “mother of all protest” at the headquarters of NDDC in Port Harcourt to allow the Sole Administrator superintend over the conclusion of the forensic audit of the commission.
They, however, warned that the appointment of their kinsman, Engr Udengs Eradiri, a former President of the IYC as Special Adviser on Youth Matters to the Sole Administrator should not be taken as a means to silence their agitation for a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
National Spokesman of the IYC, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe who made this known yesterday in Yenagoa said the decision to put on hold the protest was reached after wide consultation with critical stakeholders and leaders of thought in the Niger Delta as well as critical organs of the council.
He, however, warned that “plans to carry out their “mother of all protest is still on course if the substantive board is not inaugurated by April.”
His words, “having consulted with critical stakeholders and leaders of thoughts within the region, critical organs of Council, we, therefore, resolved to put on hold the planned “Mother of All Protest” at the Headquarters of NDDC in Port- Harcourt, to allow the Sole Administrator superintend over the conclusion of the forensic audit as alluded by the Hon Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
“The agitation for the appointment of a substantive board for the commission has also led to the protest against the strange and unknown appointment of a sole administrator for the commission.
“Many have expressed confidence in the ability of the Ijaw youths under the IYC to ensure that the contentious issues including the nine points demands by the Niger Delta Governors and other stakeholders in the region are acted upon.
“Inspite of the pressure, and betrayal, the IYC forged ahead. Am happy to inform you, that despite the pressure and compromising stance of a few, the agitation resulted in breaking the silence of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio on a new timeline for the appointment of a substantive board.
“He said and we quote “a substantive board will be appointed in April 2021 by which time the forensic auditors have submitted their report to the Federal Government.”.
What we have gathered from the new timeline is the fact that the Sole Administrator, Mr Akwa Effiong has a four months tenure to remain in office.
“Though we have observed that the past promises made by the Federal Government on the issues of NDDC, Amnesty office, the East-West road, and other issues concerning our development, have never been fulfilled.
“We would be waiting, monitoring and engaging the Federal Government and Minister Godswill Akpabio on these numerous contentious issues.”
On the Appointment of Engr. Udengs Eradiri as SA Youth To The Sole Administrator, the IYC said though positive and for a purpose, “it should not be taken as a means to silence the Ijaw Youths agitating for a Substantive Board for the NDDC.
“While it is unanimously agreed that Engr. Udengs Eradiri has what it takes, both in capacity and incompetence to reaching out and pacifying Ijaw youths and youths from other ethnic nationality within the region who are aggrieved over the appointment of Mr Effiong Akwa as Sole Administrator of the NDDC, our position has not changed.
“We are irrevocably committed to ensuring that a substantive board for the NDDC with fair representation of the nine-member states of the region making up the Commission is immediately constituted as enshrined in the act.
“Let me reiterate that those against the protest are invariance to the overwhelming majority of Ijaw youths who have concluded plans to embark on a peaceful, but decisive demonstration at the NDDC headquarters to press home the demands of the region.
“Such conscious mass movements cannot be terminated because of the appointment of Engr. Udengs Eradiri as SA youths to the Sole Administrator. However, as a former president of the Ijaw youth council, he will enjoy our support and collaboration in discharging his duties effectively to the admiration of all.”
He also urged the external forensic auditors saddled with the task of auditing the commission to expedite work on their assignment and conclude same within the stipulated April timeline, warning that council will no longer tolerate excuses for negligence “as our plans to carrying out a mother protest is still on course if the substantive board is not inaugurated by April.
“We call on the sole administrator to work for the interest of the region within this timeline especially by Initiating policies and programmes that will build the capacities of youths in areas of skills and acquisition/ empowerment, payment of tuition fees to beneficiaries of the NDDC foreign scholarship scheme.”
The IYC also called for payment of indigenous contractors whose monies are still tied down in the commission despite the completion of such projects and another priority project that will stimulate the economy of the Niger Delta region.