Scores of Urhobo youths, under the aegis of the Urhobo Progress Union Youth Wing, on Thursday, shut down the Delta State office of the Niger Delta Development Commission located in the Warri South Local Government Area of the state.
The shutdown of the NDDC facility is coming barely five days after their Itsekiri counterparts issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government “to do the needful,” failure of which they threatened to make the Niger Delta region ungovernable.
The Urhobo youth, who mobilised on a peaceful protest to the NDDC office, sang solidarity songs as they marched from there to the Edjeba community junction.
They barricaded the entrance to the community and vowed that they would not leave the NDDC office until the Federal Government constituted and inaugurated a substantive board, whose members had already been screened by the Senate.
The protesters carried placards with different inscriptions such as: ‘We seek justice in the NDDC’, ‘We say no to bad governance’, ‘We are tired of your existence, go away’, ‘NDDC employ our youths’, ‘Mobilise contractors for the 12-year-old abandoned project – Peter Kings Road through Hilltop’, ‘NDDC, stop marginalising Edjeba community’, and ‘NDDC, develop us or leave our land’, among others.
Their President, Efemena Umukoro, faulted the idea of appointing a sole administrator for the NDDC just as he also urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to immediately sack the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio, and order a probe of his tenure.
He alleged that Akpabio had done more harm than good to the people of the Niger Delta region.
Umukoro stated, “We are saying enough is enough. We are saying that one man cannot trade with the interests of the entire region. This is not about Urhobo, but about the entire Niger Delta region. One man cannot be the EDP. One man cannot be the Executive Director. One man cannot be the MD. We are saying no. We are saying this for fairness and equity and justice.
“We are saying that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Federal Government should inaugurate the substantive board.”
While noting that there were no signs of NDDC’s performance in the region, Umukoro also called on the President to disclose the names of the persons, who had allegedly defrauded the people of the region.
He stated, “As a Niger Delta person and as the Urhobo Progress Union Youth President, I am standing with all other ethnic presidents in the region and we are saying President Muhammadu Buhari, your government came up to fight corruption. Please fight corruption for us and inaugurate a substantive board for us.
“We don’t want the creeks or the militants to strike anymore. We want peace in the Niger Delta. We are against violence as a people. But when justice is traded, the people go violent. We do not want to go violent.
“We are appealing to the Federal Government that enough is enough. We are equally calling for the sack of Akpabio. He has done more harm to us than good.
Meanwhile, Akpabio, on Thursday, paid a surprise visit to the ex-militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, at his Oporoza, Gbaramatu Kingdom country home in Delta State.
Sources said Akpabio’s mission was to appeal to Tompolo to soft-pedal on his earlier seven-day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government to constitute a substantive board for the NDDC.
Tompolo had in a signed statement on Sunday threatened that failure to inaugurate the board of the NDDC within seven days would lead to total shutdown of oil facilities in the region, which would in turn cripple the economy of the country.
Akpabio was earlier received at the Osubi airstrip in Warri by the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Kingsley Otuaro, and his younger brother, Dennis, as well as some senior military officers.
The minister then moved in a boat to Oporoza, where he had a closed-door meeting with his host, the outcome of which was still being expected by journalists as of the time of filing this report.