From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
An advocacy group, Niger Delta Peace Advocates (NDPA), has faulted the rising protests and renewed agitation over the calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute the substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group pointedly accused elected and political office holders from the region of sponsoring the recent pockets of protests and ultimatums being issued by ex-militant leaders and Ijaw youths.
According to the NDPA, despite the sincerity in the call for the immediate constitution of the substantive board for the NDDC, the rising tension and threats of violence being thrown up by the sponsored protests and issuance of ultimatum is misdirected and showed the hidden agenda of the sponsors and their cronies to arm-twist President Buhari to hurriedly appoint the NDDC board to fulfil their inordinate ambition for 2023.
NDPA National Coordinator Osagie Osagiede said in a statement that instead of agitating for a total shutdown in the Niger Delta that will bring about the realisation of restructuring, equal partnership in the oil and gas industry, true federalism and constructive development in the region, the sponsors of these protests and ultimatums are only interested in stopping the ongoing forensic audit, a sack of Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio, and the constitution of a substantive board to perpetuate political ambition and cover up their past loot in the commission.
According to him, it is clear that that there is a plot to get Akpabio out of government and they are using the NDDC matter to execute their plan.
The statement read in part:
‘These powerful politicians have shown that they have scuttled the sincere agitations of Ijaw youths through a wedge between its President, Mr Timothy Igbifa and the national executive. They have also shown that the insincere efforts to ensure that President Buhari pardons our leader, High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, is yielding dividend with an ultimatum that has triggered more ultimatums from militants. We have also noticed that the crux of all statements made on this issue is geared towards the sack of Akpabio, [and a] stop of the forensic audit and inauguration of NDDC substantive board.
‘We have also discovered that Senator Godswill Akpabio has become a bone in their throat for the control of the NDDC and President Muhammdu Buhari should read between the lines and call these anti-Niger Delta political office holders to order. Instead of succumbing to these sponsors, the youths and ex-agitators in the region should ask them what they have personally used their offices to bring to the region. These men are desperate and they have used their desperate resources to create division, tension and threat of bloodshed among the people of the region.’