From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Former president of Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Udengs Eradiri, has appealed to Ijaw youths to shelve their ongoing plans to shut down the Niger Delta in a protest designed to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Eradiri, who is special assistant on youth matters to the interim administrator of NDDC, Effiong Akwa, urged the youths to reconsider such move in view of the prevailing security situations in the country.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday, he said the current security challenges did not favour protest by a large crowd because it could be infiltrated by hoodlums to shed the blood of innocent lives.
He advised that as a responsible organisation, IYC should not be seen as creating opportunities for hoodlums.
He urged the youths to support ongoing efforts by President Buhari, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and Akwa to conclude the ongoing forensic audit designed to clean the rot in NDDC and give the commission a new beginning.
He said Akpabio had explained at many fora that Buhari desired a conclusion of the audit before inaugurating the substantive board for the commission, adding that doing otherwise would jeopardise the ongoing investigations.
Eradiri admitted delay in the auditing process and explained it was initially caused by budgetary constraints, stating that Akpabio’s intervention led the presidency to resolve the financial hiccups by taking over the funding of the audit.
“The audit is recording tremendous progress. The auditors are now on field assignments after which they will write and submit their reports.
“It is instructive to note that the president desires to end the audit before inaugurating a new board to give the NDDC a new and responsible beginning. Any attempt to put the board in place without concluding the ongoing investigations will derail the forensic audit.
“As a former IYC president, I also want the board to be inaugurated. But, I have since observed that having a board has never been the problem of the NDDC.
“The commission has always had a board. But, the problems over the years have been institutionalised corruption, failure of an accountable system and misappropriation of our commonwealth,” he said.
Eradiri said despite the complaints against the current management structure of the commission, the NDDC, under Akpabio and Akwa, had recorded more feats, which all the past boards of the commission could not boast of in the region.