From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Stakeholders from states that make up the Niger Delta region have concluded plans to convene an enlarged meeting to take a decision on the suspended protest against the interim management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The meeting is expected to have in attendance members of the umbrella body of Ijaw youths worldwide, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), ethnic nationality bodies and other Civil Society groups in the region.
The agenda according to competent sources is resumption of the suspended protest meant to shut down the headquarters of the NDDC over the tenure of the interim administrator, Mr. Akwa Effiong.
Already, some Niger Delta governors and national assembly members from the region have indicated their readiness to support the meeting and the planned protest to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari appoint a substantive board as provided under the NDDC Act.
It was gathered that the decision to call for an enlarged meeting of stakeholders and IYC clan heads on the planned protest was based on the way and manner the protest was put on hold in January, 2 to give room to the promises made by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio on a new timeline for the appointment of a substantive board.
A senior member of the Ijaw Youths leadership argued that the four months tenure of the Sole Administrators is a dismal failure.
“It is sad to note that even the NDDC under this sole administrator, Mr Akwa has not done anything significant that will put smiles on the faces of the Niger Delta people despite the huge resources at his disposal. Up till now, what he promised the region has not been met. Genuine contractors who have completed their jobs are still not paid. Some of these payments are below a hundred million naira which would have stimulated the micro economy of the region and consolidate the fragile peace. Payments are made discreetly and selective and our people are not happy. No youth engagement/empowerment programs and rumours have it that there are already surreptitious moves to extend his tenure. That will not be acceptable,” the source said.
Contacted on the development, the spokesman of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Mr Ebilade Ekerefe, confirmed that the National Executive Council of the IYC will be meeting soonest to deliberate on the issue of a resumed protest based on the quoted promise of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio on the April timeline
” We are already in April and we have not heard anything and our people have started asking questions. But we have assured them that the struggle for a substantive board with equal representation of the nine member states in the region is not negotiable and we are taking the Minister by his words”.