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The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) on Monday rose from a meeting and issued the Federal Government one-month ultimatum to constitute a governing board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Peter Igbifa, IYC president, said youths would shut down the Niger Delta region if the president refused to constitute the board within the period of the ultimatum.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in January 2019, ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the NDDC from 2001 to 2019, noting that what was on ground in the Niger Delta did not justify the huge resources that had been made available to the commission.
Buhari in October 2019, appointed an interim committee to oversee the affairs of the commission, pending the conclusion of the audit.
Kemebradikumo Pondei was in February 2020, appointed as the new acting managing director, but was removed months after, following allegations of funds mismanagement by the committee.
The president, on December 12, 2020, appointed Effiong Akwa, acting executive director of finance and administration of the commission, as the new head of the agency.
Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, had said Akwa would be in charge of the agency’s affairs until the completion of the forensic audit ordered by the president.
However, the Ijaw youth council has threatened that the smooth operations in the region was not guaranteed, if a new board was not constituted soon.
Warned Igbifa: “At the moment, we have been able to discuss the issue of NDDC for which council has resolved that we are giving the Federal Government, Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, a one-month ultimatum to close out on the board inauguration for the NDDC.
“We consider the NDDC a very critical agency for us in this region, and for this cause, we want to make it clear that between now and the one month, if the board is not brought in, we may not be able to guarantee the safety of all operations in the region.
“Council will definitely shut down the entire region if Mr. President fails to deliver on or before one month from today. This message must be taken very seriously. You can understand it is constitutional; when they constitute this board, it brings representation from different states”.
Igbifa said the constitution of the board will also ensure empowerment for youths of the region, adding that the IYC will ensure that when the board is constituted, it won’t be controlled by politicians.
Said he: “Council has [given the assurance] that the board that will come in will not be like the ones controlled by politicians. Rest assured that council will monitor projects. Remember, it was council that made cry for the east-west road.
“Council is telling Mr. President to take the issue of Niger Delta very critically. There is no time for political involvement in the issue that affects the region anymore”.