Youths of the oil producing Niger Delta region have warned the in-coming administration of Major General Muham-madu Buhari against reducing the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to a parastatal under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
The warning came against the backdrop of the alleged plan by the next government to implement the recommendations of the Steve Oransaye Committee Report on the rationalization and merger of some Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
Rising from a meeting in Warri, Delta State, at the weekend, a coalition, comprising 26 youth and ex-militant groups under the aegis South- South Mandate, vowed to resist any move that could impede the rapid transformation of the region currently being undertaken by the NNDC.
According to the youths, in a communiqué signed by the Chief Convener, Mr. Victor Akpe, making the NDDC a parastatal under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs would mean bogging the commission’s projects down with civil service bureaucracy.
“In as much as we grudgingly decided to allow peace to reign after we were dubiously and maliciously rigged out of the presidency, our reluctant acceptance of that faulty March 28, 2015 electoral abracadabra over a sitting President from Niger Delta, a charade never recorded in the history of electoral contest in Nigeria, should not be misconstrued as capitulation by the youth of Niger Delta, now galvanized under the South-south Mandate, SSM,”the youths said.
“While we are still evaluating the import of March 28, 2015 presidential poll robbery through a well-orchestrated regional gang-up, procedural compromise and massive intimidation of the electorate in some parts of the country, we shall vehemently resist further humiliation and annihilation of our people”. The youths noted in the communiqué which was made available to newsmen in Abuja, that as the closest government interventionist agency to the poor and neglected people of the Niger Delta region, they would not tolerate any attempt to further suffocate the NDDC since it remained the only government agency that has direct impact on the oil bearing communities.
“Niger Deltans shall no longer allow their interest to be subjugated and trampled upon by the Federal Government of Nigeria under whatever guise”, they added.
They contended that if part of the reasons for the planned merger was based on some frivolous complaints of non-performance against the agency by some disgruntled individuals, the Federal Government should be held responsible for its refusal to release over N700billion statutory funds owed the agency which would have gone a long way in executing its projects and programmes.
While emphasizing that the NDDC must be allowed to function independently under the presidency as presently constituted and be allowed to continue to draw its funding from the current First-Line charge, the youths warned that they neither issue threats without a cause, nor strike without exhausting all possible channels of consultation and seeking redress. Rather than merge the commission with the ministry, the youths urged the incoming Buhari adminis-tration to release the entire N700 billion being owed it and ensure prompt release of its funds, subsequently.