Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
Youths in the Niger Delta, under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum, have given the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum to reverse the alleged elongation of the tenure of the current board of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The PANDLEAF warned that if after the expiration of the ultimatum which began on Tuesday, the government failed to rescind its decision, the group would embark on mass protests until the right thing was done.
The ultimatum and eventual warning were contained in a communique via electronic mail signed by the group’s National President, Richard Akinaka; the Secretary, Ubokobong Umoh; and its spokesperson, Success Jack.
The PANDLEAF restated its earlier stance on outright condemnation of the tenure renewal for the Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba-led NDDC board and alleged sundry matters relating to unhealthy political rivalries in the region.
It claimed that after its earlier condemnation of the government’s alleged elongation of the tenure of the board, the Secretary to Government of the Federation came out with a response justifying the extension.
PANDLEAF said in the communique, “If the facts as deposed to by the SGF, have any modicum of credibility or truth , then the Managing Director’s position should ordinarily have gone to Bayelsa State for a full four-year term.
“The fact that the previous Dan Abia-led administration had served for two years and another board was required to complete the remaining life of that tenure is not in contention. But to give total fresh four-year tenure to the same state is something totally alien to the NDDC enabling Act itself and a vehement assault on our collective sensibilities.
“But in all sincerity, the claim that the Victor Ndoma-Egba-led board was given a fresh term of four years is a highly insensitive thing to do or say. It is the height of administrative corruption/irresponsibility and official rascality, especially in the context of pitting sister states against one another in a very volatile region as ours.
“We hereby want to state categorically that should the Federal Government fail to reverse this illegality bordering on tenure elongation within a fortnight (two weeks), then we would mobilise our people to continuously occupy the streets in protest, until the right thing is done.”
The PANDLEAF, therefore, called on the Presidency to rescind the elongation in the interest of peace, justice and stability in the region.
It insisted that on the alternative, the government should appoint the highest ranking staff member of the commission from Bayelsa State as its Managing Director.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide has warned against the move by some persons in the Presidency to extend the tenure of the Ndoma-Egba-led board of the NDDC.
The umbrella body of Ijaw youths urged the government to abide by the Act establishing the commission, insisting that any attempt to elongate the tenure of the current board would jeopardise the peace in the region.
The Secretary-General of IYC, Bayelsa State, Mr. Alfred Kemepado, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on persons pushing for the extension to drop the idea in the interest of peace and stability of the region.
He said the peace in the Niger Delta deserved to be nurtured, urging the President not to allow selfish and political ambitions of a few individuals to trigger needless crisis in the region.
Kemepado said by virtue of the Act establishing the commission, Ndoma-Egba’s board was appointed to complete the existing tenure of its predecessor as stipulated in its letter of engagement.
He urged the Federal Government to investigate the motive behind the latest development in which the SGF tried to justify the elongation of the present tenure of the board.
Kemepado stated, “Some persons in the Presidency are trying to create crisis in the Niger Delta region. We are warning the SGF to tread with caution and desist from acts capable of causing crisis in the region.
“We saw the appointment letter and it was clearly stated that the current board was appointed to serve out the tenure of the administration it took over from. It was clear and there was no ambiguity in it. Their tenure has expired and they should bow out.
“By our calculation, the tenure of the current board has expired and they should vacate their offices for a fresh board to take over. Staying a day beyond their tenure is an act of corruption which this administration is fighting against.”