The Forums of Ijaw Youth Council has said that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), was not created for the people of the Ijaw ethnic nationality in the region alone, stating that the commission was to cater for the development of all the groups in the Niger Delta.
The zonal and chapter chairmen of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide also denied calling for the removal of the newly appointed Sole Administrator, NDDC, Effiong Akwa, and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
It would be recalled that in a protest letter purportedly addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Forum of IYC Zonal and Chapter Chairmen (FIZCC) threatened to shut down the headquarters of the NDDC if the demand for the removal of Akwa and Akpabio was not met within seven days.
However, the Chairman of FIZCC, Henry Oyobolo, and the Secretary of the forum, James Tobin, who were said to have appended their signatures to the letter, denied it.
Oyobolo, who is also the chairman, IYC Lagos zone, and Tobin, who heads the Eastern zone, disassociated themselves from the call for immediate sacking of Akwa and Akpabio.
In a letter of disclaimer addressed to the Office of the President, the duo said: “We hereby use this medium to disassociate ourselves (chairmen of IYC Zonal and Chapters’ Forum) from any publication being circulated by some persons or groups asking for the immediate sacking of the newly appointed sole administrator of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the immediate removal of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio”.
Also, another group, the Watchdog for Progressive Ijaw (WPI) observed unwarranted protests in some sections of the oil-rich region over Akwa’s appointment.
In a statement signed by is Coordinator, Lambert Olambo, the WPI stated it was disturbing that most of the demonstrations, including the recent blockade of the Mbiama axis of the East-West Road was by the Ijaw-speaking part of the region.
Olambo said while other ethnic nationalities in the region appeared to have aligned themselves with the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to first clean up the NDDC before empanelling a new board, some Ijaw stakeholders had become a willing tool to frustrate the arrangement.
He said, “Why is it that only a section of the Ijaw is opposed to Mr. President’s decision? Our investigations reveal that those opposed to Akwa’s appointment are doing so out of ethnic bias. They believe that they can only support such appointment if it comes from Ijaw.
“These same people supported Keme Pondei’s appointment to lead the dissolved Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC without asking for a new board despite financial profligacy against that committee. They did so because they believe that Pondei is from Ijawland.
“WPI is opposed to this kind of nepotic and tribalistic thinking. As progressives, Niger Delta is not all about Ijaw alone. NDDC was not created for only Ijaw. We have many other ethnic nationalities in the region, and we as Ijaw need to unite with all of them and build bridges across them for effective solidarity and better bargaining power.”
They, however, backed the council for asking the Federal Government to appoint a substantive managing director and a board to run the affairs of the NDDC.