Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Niger Delta youths have offered reasons for the endemic poverty and underdevelopment in the region blaming it on perennial leadership failure.
According to them, the Niger Delta region has remained poor and underdeveloped despite trillions of Naira appropriated and expended by the Federal and state governments as well as other intervention policies because it lacked visionary leaders.
This position was contained in a communiqué issued by Niger Delta youths, under the aegis of the Pan Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum (PANDLEAF) after a meeting which had in attendance Presidents of Itsekiri, Uhrobo and Ijaw youth councils, as part of their ongoing engagement with ethnic youth leadership in the Niger Delta.
The PANDLEAF, led by its President, Richard Akinaka, who read the communiqué, explained that the essence of the exercise was to instill a renew sense of responsibility among our youths.
Akinaka lamented that after years of budgeting and deploying trillions of Naira through states and intervention agencies and the Federal Government, the region has nothing to show for the huge budgetary appropriations in the region.
Akinaka also explained that the ethnic youth leadership engagement exercise is not a political movement, but the gathering of youths irrespective of political affiliation to hold political leaders from the region accountable.
He harped on the need for peace amongst the various ethnic groups in the region stressing that language which seems to be the defining instrument of “our differences is just a mere tool of communication and must not be allowed to divide us”.
While noting that militancy activities in the past were intended to secure attention to the marginalisation of the region by the federal government and the multinationals, that phase caused the region more woes as it led to the relocation of economic activities to the West.
The communiqué read in part, “After the first two to three years of the establishment the NDDC, the agency has perpetually become an instrument in the hands of those who control Abuja from the region to finance elections.
“The problem of the region is that of perennial leadership failure. We are embarking on this engagement with ethnic youth leaders to instill a renew sense of responsibility to peace, harmony and common development.
“We are here to talk to ourselves to promote ethnic harmony, peace as a generation to advance a common, economic, political and social agenda through objective political participation of youths. The engagement is not about political parties but about the collective peace, unity and progress of the region.
In an interview a member of the National Executive of PANDLEAF, Mr. Selekaye Victor-Ben, he noted that the poor leadership problem identified was caused by the imposition of political leaders on the people of the region.
He said the youths of the region must unite to ensure that there is quality political representation that would take the people out of poverty.