The leadership of the Ijaw Youths Council Worldwide has frowned at the outburst of the Rivers State Governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike over his threat against ethnic groups planning to protest against the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over perceived short-comings on the issue of development in the region.
Gov. Wike had threatened to mobilize against any ethnic group that stage protest at the headquarters of the NDDC in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and further said that the NDDC does not belong to any ethnic group but to all the people of the Niger Delta region.
But the IYC, In a press statement issued and signed by its National Spokesman Comr. Ebilade Ekerefe, Yesterday, stated that though the Ijaw youths agreed completely with Governor Wike that the NDDC belongs to every Niger Deltan, “but we insist that when some ethnic groups were maintaining table manners in the peak of the agitations, others paid the supreme price in the region before the eventual creation of the Commission by the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000.”
Ekerefe noted that the fall out of the agitations in the region can still be witnessed through the incessant and targeted military invasions, human rights violations and extra judicial killings while other ethnic nationalities aare calm.
The IYC Spokesman further asserted that the right to protest is the constitutional right of all Nigerians including Niger Delta groups and as a result Gov. Wike lacks the power to stop any group from protesting at the NDDC headquarters.
” It is even a logical contradiction for Gov. Wike to in one breath assert that NDDC belong to all ethnic groups, and in another breath, threaten to mobilize against any body who protest at the NDDC Headquarters. Is Gov. Wike insinuating that Rivers indigenes especially Ikwerre where the NDDC temporary headquarters has been situated for the past 2021 years own NDDC more than others?”
Comr. Ebilade Ekerefe admonished Governor Wike to treat the entire Rivers state as equal stakeholders since he believes in the school of thought that NDDC belongs to everyone in the region,” available evidence suggest that the governor is only concentrating development in his Ikwerre land while Ijaw communities, especially in Abonema where Ijaw youths gave their lives for his re-election bid remains underdeveloped.”
On governor Wike threat to use brut force to deal decisively with youths of the region who engage in any form of picketing of the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Comr. Ebilade stated that the governor did not make proper findings and did not get his facts correctly before threatening fire and brimstone.
He described the allege Gov. Wike threat as unguarded from a respected governor of the region, “such statement is provocative and disrespectful, and capable of causing dissatisfaction and breach the peaceful coexistence amongst the various ethnic nationalities within the region and truncating the existing fragile peace in the Niger Delta and advised him to apply caution in his public comments.”
Comr. Ekerefe recalled that the decision to locate the NDDC headquarters in Rivers state does not preclude the people of the region from any member states the right to protest peacefully in expressing their grievances anytime.
He however stated that the renewed agitation for a substantive board in the NDDC became inevitable having noticed that it has become a deliberate ploy by the federal government to undermine the region and under-develop it when other interventionist agencies outside the region does not suffer similar fate.
He however explained that the IYC is not against any ethnicity from occupying any position in the NDDC board if the act which establishes it is implemented, “But a continuous none adherence to the act is inimical to the full operational capacity of the NDDC and should be resisted by every rightful thinking person who means well for the development of the region.”
“For clarity, let me reiterate that our position to resume the planned “mother of all protest” at the NDDC headquarters is still on course if a substantive board is not on-stream by April as the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio alluded. We are irrevocably committed to this course and nobody can stop us from legitimately expressing our grievances when that time comes.