By Chukwuma Umeorah
Ijaw Interest Advocates (IIA) and Izanzan Intellectual Camp (IIC) have cried out on the neglect and deprivation of the Ijaw people and members of oil producing communities in the selection of the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The groups stated this in a statement, yesterday, by the National Coordinator of both bodies, Arerebo Salaco Yerinmene.
They lamented that indigenes of oil producing communities were not given proper representation in the board and not involved in core decision making processes that affects their communities, rather, such positions were reserved for government officials from non-oil producing states. They described it as a deliberate attempt to hijack and disrupt the mandate of the commission.
According to the National Coordinator of both bodies, “NDDC was created specifically for the development of oil producing communities and the people in terms of staffing, appointments and development but the agency has now been systematically turned to an agency for settling politicians irrespective of their places of origin.
“We view the process of appointment as an intentional act to further frustrate and provoke our people, especially the oil producing communities whose troubles have been made worse by the total absence of government presence over the years despite the massive contribution to the existence of the Nigeria State.
“Ideally, equity requires that where resources are produced, part of such resources should be ploughed back to that area for its development and the people must get involved in order to align and negotiate with government for peace and speedy growth and development but there is no gainsaying that the oil producing communities are treated as if they don’t exist by successive governments but became worse since the inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“Ironically, all the members of committees supervising NDDC at the National Assembly are from non-oil producing areas in their states of origin. These same people are also saddled with the very important responsibility of drawing up the annual NDDC budget in conjunction with the NDDC board,” he said.
Yerinmene further noted that such deprivation of host communities in the commission could propel outrage among indigenes and if not handled properly could degenerate further.
“Such reckless appointments and breach of the NDDC Establishment Act usually serve as fuel for future agitations in the oil producing communities…”
It seems the government derive pleasure in creating the problems for people to agitate in order to send the military to crush and burn down our oil producing communities on the slightest provocation to protest government injustice,” he said.
He, therefore, urged all oil producing communities mostly in Delta State to rise against these injustices by sending leaders and representatives to attend an upcoming meeting slated for the end of January in Warri, Delta State, to kick-start a series of measures to address the issue.
“We would fully mobilise ourselves irrespective of tribe, to take a legitimate but decisive line of action to stop the injustice as quickly as possible,” he said.