Delta state deputy governor, Kingsley Otuaro, youth and community leaders from various ethnic nationalities of Niger Delta region on Thursday slammed the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio over what they termed 'refusal by President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister, Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Following the 7-day ultimatum on NDDC board reconstitution, issued last Sunday by ex- militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo to the Nigerian government, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio hurriedly embarked on a trip to the hometown of the ex-militant leader, Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Delta State, to hold talks with stakeholders.
Speaking on behalf of the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa during the stakeholders meeting at the palace of the King of Gbaramatu kingdom, the state governor Deputy governor, Kingsley Otuaro, reiterated the position of state government which is constitution of a substantive board for the commission is in accordance with the Act establishing the NDDC.
Otuaro noted that "the country is in serious tumour as a result of failed leadership. The discussion on the streets by our people is that, has our brother, the uncommon transformation agenda governor also joined the bandwagon of failed leadership.
"This has been the questions in the public domain. Because we can not explain an institution like the NDDC that is a product of an act is been run in flagrant abuse. The voice of the people must be listened to; we want a substantive board in NDDC as soon as possible. We don't want anything untoward in this region. We want the right thing to be done. As the representative of the governor of Delta state, Dr. Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, we don't want a repeat of what happened in the region in 2016."
Also expressing its sadness and disappointment towards the attitude of the Minister, the President of Isoko National Youth Assembly (INYA), Amos Ogbokor-Etaluku, told the Minister that the Isoko nation aligned her with the 7-day ultimatum issued by the ex-militant leader.
He said failure to adhere to the demands of the people, the Minister should be ready to dance to the aftermath music.
On his part, the President, Ijaw National Congress (INC), Benjamin Okaba, expressed dismay that Akpabio was running NDDC with a sole administrator in contravention of the Act that established the commission.
Spokesman for Gbaramatu Traditional Council, Godspower Gbenekeme, told Akpabio in clear terms that “the people seated here are not IYC executives that you can just call to Abuja, the presence of soldiers in our region is not the reason for peace, it is because of our resolve. We want that board to be constituted; the ultimatum stands, after the ultimatum and nothing is done, don’t blame anybody."
Addressing the stakeholders meeting earlier, Akpabio advised the people of the region against anything that could possibly ignite war and tension in the area.
"The youths must give peace a chance and going by the fragile nature of the Niger Delta region, it is only someone who has not seen a war that would be talking of war.
"When others are having their issues and they want to take it on the federal government, we are saying this region should not join them. I am saying this because the last time, a lot of their young ones were killed. As a young man I saw where mothers threw their kids in the pit toilet so that soldiers would not find them with the cry of the baby.
"I saw people slept in the open field of primary schools. I saw where somebody will be walking on the road and the next thing you hear is ‘gbo’ and you see blood gushing out and he doesn’t even know he has been shot so we must not allow our region to boil, we must support the federal government, particularly this present government. My visit is primarily to consult the people on the way forward and also to appeal for peace.", Akpabio said.
SaharaReporters reliably gathered that ex-militant, Tompolo, who refused to meet with the Minister, sent a message warning him to return to Abuja and inaugurate the NDDC board without further delay.