From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Hundreds of Niger Delta youth leaders in conjunction with youths from Ibikalama Community, host to new head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Rivers State, yesterday shutdown the operations of the Commission over what they described as double standard by the Interim Administrator of the Commission Mr. Effiong Akwa in a purported appointment of former president of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Engr. Udengs Eradiri as his special assistant on youth in NDDC.
The youths who came out in their numbers particularly from communities in Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers State, revealed that Mr Effiong Akwa, against the earlier name he presented to the host community in December last year, may have allegedly gone behind to pick a different person for the same position.
The carrying placards youths who blocked the main entrance of the Commission, also called on the federal government to inaugurate a substantive NDDC board without further delay, adding that they host communities will not accept divide and rule leadership style from the Interim Administrator.
Spokesman of the group,r GodGift Lucky who spoke to newsmen at the main entrance of the Commission along the East West bye pass, in Port Harcourt, during the protest, blamed the Interim Administrator for fomenting trouble through his alleged action on the purported appointment.
According to Mr Lucky, the Interim Administrator had earlier announced one Mr. Jude Akpodubakaye as his new special assistant on Youth and Security Matters in a meeting with the host community leaders in December last year but went behind later to allegedly present the name of Engr. Udengs Eradiri for the same position without the notice of the host communities, which action according to him, had triggered the protest.
He reiterated that, ‘unless the Interim Administrator rescinds his decision on the purported appointment of former IYC president, we will continue with the protest’, adding that the youths from the Niger Delta region were beginning to loose confidence in Interim Administrator.
The protesters who were adamant to earlier appeals by well meaning individuals to disperse, were later addressed by one Mr. Ben Ogoriba, referred to as CSO.
Ogoriba advised the youth leaders to rather thread with caution not to create any wrong impression on the federal government being the host community to the NDDC headquarters.
He assured the protesters of intervention of the king of the host community, Amayanabo of Okochiri HRM, King Ateke Tom in the brewing crisis. He told them to go home and put their demands in writing and present same to the Interim Administrator, saying that King Ateke Tom has already been briefed on the issues.
Also speaking, Mr Jude Akpodubakaye, secretary general of the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) promised to take up the issues with the relevant authority and get back to them within days.
Mr. Akpodubakaye, who was an aspirant for Delta State House of Assembly in Warri South West constituency on the platform of the All Progressives Party (APC) and secretary of Delta State APC Security Committee during the 2015 Presidential Election, pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari has good intentions for the Niger Delta region, just as he appealed to the protesters to remain calm while their grievances were being addressed.