A Niger Delta based socio cultural group operating under the auspices of Ijaw Interest Advocates, IIA, Izanzan Intellectual Camp has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint an Ijaw man to chairman the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
The group made their demands from the Federal Government yesterday in Warri via a well organized World Press Briefing.
According to the national coordinator of IIA, Amb. Salaco Yerinmene Jnr who briefed the press on behalf of its members accross the Niger Delta region had noted that an Ijaw man must be considered with the NDDC board chairman.
Amb. Salaco had revealed that there are secrete moves to make former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel E. Uduaghan chairman of the NDDC, stressing that such move must not be allowed to see the light of the day.
The group had noted that the Ijaw agitation for resource control gave birth to the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and others, adding that aloting the slot to an Ijaw man should be the right thing to be done.
In speaking further, the national coordinator of IIA had insisted that Uduaghan must not be given such a juicy position, adding that such act would mean more political oppression for the Ijaws as Uduaghan was alledged not to have been competent enough while he was Governor of the state for 8 years.
The group had noted that Ijaws in Delta state suffered chronically and miserably in the hands of Uduaghan, asserting that his administration was characterized by low development in the Ijaw areas in the state.
However, IIA had stated that there are lots of competent Ijaws in the All Progressives Congress, APC that are more than capable to handle such office.
Meanwhile, Yerinmene had also frowned at President Muhammadu Buhari for not assenting to the Nigeria Maritime University, NMU Bill, Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area, Delta State, noting that there is no justifiable reason for such act.
While urging President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider the bill, the group had further drawn the attention of the federal Government to the infrastructural decay in Ijaw land and the need for federal appointments.
Text of the world press briefing reads in part bellow:
Gentlemen of the Press!
Fellow lieutenants of Izanzan Intellectual Camp
Stakeholders of Niger Delta Comrade Family
Ladies And gentle
I bring to you greetings from the leadership and intellectual lieutenants of the Ijaw Interest Advocates. I lack the right words to convey my gratitude to you for abandoning your various schedules to attend this press briefing session despite the impromptu nature of the event. Your presence is a further indication that we have a multitude of patriots in the Niger Delta who are ready to champion the course of justice vis-a-vis our neglected towns and villages.
The Ijaw Interest Advocates have consistently taken it up as a duty to preach the gospel of sustainable development, justice and fairness using all lawful means. As unarmed lieutenants our unperturbed resolve is to use our intellectual and material resources to advocate for a better social, political and economic environment for our people who are daily battling with the oppressive yoke of marginalization.
Today’s Press session is necessitated by the need to change the old bitter story of deprivation as our great nation mark a brand new order in her timeline of history. As we embark on a new democratic dispensation it becomes imperative to correct the indices of inequality and neglect that has characterized the previous administrations. Our people have always been relegated to the background in every positive facets of our democratic system. No time is better than today to change this ugly narrative. We are thus going to highlight certain areas that are in dire need of urgent attention and intervention from the Federal and State Governments.
1. MANAGEMENT OF THE NDDC BOARD: As this new order begins, we are aware that the federal government is making moves to change the leadership of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). We are also knowledgeable about some purported plans to impose a former Governor of Delta State Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan as the new Board Chairman. While we believe this to be a mere joke, we want to state it clear that the choice of this former governor would mean another term of hardship and oppression of the Niger Delta as he never commissioned a single project that will stand the test of time within the 8 years he held sway as governor. We are by this address calling on the President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government to appoint an Ijaw man as the Chairman of the Board. There are lot of qualified Ijaw men with proven managerial capacity and mastery of the underdeveloped towns and villages in the Niger Delta most especially the creeks and coastal communities. Since the inception of the commission which was an intervention in response to the agitation of the Ijaw people, the Ijaws especially those in Edo, Ondo, Delta, Akwa-Ibom etc have not produced the chairman of the board. Assuming that the President insists that the office must be given to a member of his political party, we on our own part also insist that the Ijaws in the APC must be considered for this job. The Ijaws in APC must not be considered only as political errand men during elections. They deserve to eat the fruit of their labour. This is the most suitable time for President Buhari to correct this anomaly and we implore him to heed this call seriously while we urged him to abide to the NDDC Act which is the foundation on which NNDC is built should be respected and Adhere for the Sake of Equity, Justice and Fairness,in order to further promote and build Peace in the Volatile Niger Delta Region
2. THE REFUSAL OF PRESIDENTIAL ASSENT TO THE NMU ESTABLISHMENT BILL 2016:
We hereby express our anger over the refusal of the President to assent to the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko Establishment Bill 2016 which has passed through due process of legislature. There is no justification for this provocation of our collective sensibilities. The Nigerian Maritime University has come to stay and we are stating it without fear that we shall never allow anybody or authority or forces and principalities to further frustrate the smooth operations of the institution. The establishment of the school has passed through all legal requirements and as such the Establishment Bill must be assented to with immediate alacrity. The excuse of President Buhari that the funding sum is excessive is untenable and unacceptable. The sum meant for funding the school is not by any way comparable to the huge sums spent fruitlessly by the federal government in searching for crude oil in the North.
3. DEMAND FOR FEDERAL APPOINTMENTS FOR THE IJAW NATION: We wish to express our displeasure over the gross marginalization of the Ijaw nation as regards the federal appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari during his first tenure. The unfounded excuse of 95 per cent and 7 per cent votes scored from different regions is a mere gimmick employed to continue the oppressive tendencies of the North against the south. As a new government begins we are calling on the President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government to give the Ijaws more federal appointments than ever before. We want to state it clear that when the government was steered by our son, he never deprived people from other ethnic groups from getting federal appointments but made fairness and equity as the focal points of his government. There are innumerable sons and daughters of the Ijaw nation who are well qualified to head any Ministry, Department, Agency or Commission. The Ijaw nation is blessed with the best technocrats in all fields of specialization. There is no excuse the federal government can give on why the Ijaw nation is deliberately deprived when it comes to federal appointments. Politics is a matter of interest and as such interest of people may vary. Be that as it may, the Ijaw people have sacrificed a lot for this administration. During the last general elections held in February and March, the Ijaw people were the major victims of political violence. Our youths with great potentials were massacred in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers State by the military and other armed men. Even the President’s kinsmen did not record such sacrifice of blood during the elections. The President of the country must understand that there is no compensation that can ever match the blood spilled in the Niger Delta by the military to ensure his electoral victory. Thus, he has no excuse whatsoever to deprive the Ijaw people of juicy federal appointments. Assuming without conceding that he never had support from the Ijaw areas, we would like to ask the President the following questions: On whose resources is the federal government being run? Whose resources is used to pay the federal appointees? We want to state it clear that it is our resources that are used to run the federal government and our people deserve to benefit from same.
4. THE NEED FOR MORE INFRASTRUCTURE IN IJAW LAND
From the previous administration no project was commissioned by President Buhari in Ijaw land. This is a gross provocation against the Ijaw people. The Ijaw nation must be the primary focus of every government when it comes to distribution of development. We are the ones who milk the nation. Our resources are daily exploited without regard to our environment and livelihood and yet we are deprived of basic infrastructure. We are by this press statement calling on President Buhari to ensure that all the coastal communities are connected with standard roads and electricity. It is our inalienable right to be provided with these basic amenities.
As we end this press statement we want to state it clear that we have decided to take up the issues raised herein if the government refuses to address them within reasonable time. We want to assure you of our unmitigated resolve to fight for justice and the all-round development of the Ijaw nation. We shall never be cowed by the oppressive elements that do not mean well for the Ijaw nation.
Thank you and God bless you.
Signed for the Ijaw Interest Advocates:
Amb. Arerebo Salaco Yerinmene Peters
(National Coordinator, IIA)