From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Stakeholders from states that make up the Niger Delta have concluded plans to convene an enlarged meeting to take a decision on the suspended protest against the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The meeting is expected to have in attendance members of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), ethnic nationality bodies and civil society groups in the region.
The agenda, according to sources, is the resumption of the suspended protest meant to shut down the NDDC headquarters over the tenure of the interim administrator, 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 President Muhammadu Buhari appoints 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 on January 2 to give room to the promises made by 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 said the four months tenure of the sole administrators was a failure.
“It is sad to note that even the NDDC under Effiong 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 N100 million 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 programmes and rumours have it that there are already surreptitious moves to extend his tenure. That will not be acceptable,” the source said.
Spokesman of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Ebilade Ekerefe, confirmed the IYC National Executive Council would meet to deliberate on the issue of a resumed protest based on the promise of Akpabio on the April timeline.