Ijaw youths from the nine states of the Niger Delta region have announced to put on hold their planned protest and shutdown of the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to the youths under the aegis of Ijaw Youths Council, the decision to put on hold the planned action was reached following consultations with critical stakeholders, leaders of thoughts within the region and critical organs of the council to allow the Sole Administrator superintend over the conclusion of the forensic audit as alluded by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
The spokesman for the umbrella body of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe, while speaking on Saturday in Yenagoa, noted that despite the pressure and compromising stance of a few, the agitation resulted in breaking the silence of Akpabio on a new timeline for the appointment of a substantive board.
Ekerefe said, "He said and we quote 'a substantive board will be appointed in April 2021 by which time the forensic auditors would have submitted their report to the Federal Government'.
"What we have gathered from the new timeline is the fact that the Sole Administrator, Mr. Akwa Effiong, has a four-month tenure to remain in office.
"Though we have observed that the past promises made by the Federal Government on the issues of NDDC, Amnesty Office, the East-West Road, and other issues concerning our development have never been fulfilled, we would be waiting, monitoring and engaging the Federal Government and the minister, Godswill Akpabio, on these numerous contentious issues.
"And on the appointment of Udengs Eradiri as SA Youth to the Sole Administrator, though positive and for a purpose, it should not be taken as a means to silence the Ijaw youths agitating for a substantive board for the NDDC.
"While it is unanimously agreed that Udengs Eradiri has what it takes, both in capacity and in competence to reaching out and pacifying Ijaw youths and youths from other ethnic nationalities within the region who are aggrieved over the appointment of Mr. Effiong Akwa as Sole Administrator of the NDDC, our position has not changed.
"We are irrevocably committed to ensuring that a substantive board for the NDDC with fair representation of the nine member states of the region making up the commission is immediately constituted as enshrined in the act.
"On the issue of protest, let me reiterate that those against the protest are at variance with the overwhelming majority of Ijaw youths who have concluded plans to embark on a peaceful, but decisive demonstration at the NDDC headquarters to press home the demands of the region.
"Such conscious mass movements cannot be terminated because of the appointment of Engr. Udengs Eradiri as SA Youths to the Sole Administrator. However, as a former president of the Ijaw Youths Council, he will enjoy our support and collaboration in discharging his duties effectively to the admiration of all.
"Therefore, having consulted with critical stakeholders, leaders of thoughts within the region and critical organs of the council, we therefore resolved to put on hold the planned “Mother of All Protest” at the headquarters of NDDC in Port Harcourt, to allow the Sole Administrator superintend over the conclusion of the forensic audit as alluded to by the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
"We urge the external forensic auditors to hasten up their assignment and conclude within the stipulated April timeline as Ijaw youths will not tolerate excuses anymore for negligence as our plans to carrying out a mother of all protests is still on course if the substantive board is not inaugurated by April."