By Senator Matthew-Warri
Hundreds of Urhobo Youths under the auspices of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Youth Wing at a peaceful protest today shutdown the Delta State Office of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Warri, Warri South Local Government Area.
The youths who blocked the entrance road to the Edjeba Community chanting solidarity songs, said they will not leave the NDDC office until President Muhammadu Buhari’s led Federal Government constitute and inaugurate a substantive board that has already been screened bu the Senate.
The youths carried placards with inscriptions such as,” NDDC employ our youths,” Mobilize contractor for the 12 years abandoned project Peter Kings road through Hilltop,” “NDDC stop marginalizing Edjeba Community,” “NDDC develop us or leave our land,” “We say No to bad governance,” “We seek justice in the NDDC,” amongst others.
President of Urhobo Youth Wing, Comrade Efemena Umukoro in a chat with newsmen also urged President Buhari to immediately sack and probe the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio just as he kicked against the sole administratorship in NDDC.
“As the great people who are from the South-South region, we’re saying enough is enough. We are saying that one man cannot trade with the interests of the entire region. This is not about the Urhobos 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. For fairness and equity and justice, we are saying that the President Muhammadu Buhari Federal Government should inaugurate the substantive board.”
While noting that there are no signs of NDDC development in the region, Comrade Umukoro also called on the president to disclose the names of the persons who have defrauded the people of the region.
“If you say you want to investigate corruption in the NDDC, we’ll say thank you. We need the names of the persons who have defrauded us to be made known. But not using forensic audit to reput our people abject poverty again. We say No to it.”
” As a Niger Delta person, 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 the 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 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 Federal Government to say please enough is enough. We are equally calling for the sack of Akpabio. Akpabio has done more harm to us than good.”
“This is Edjeba Community. Look at the roads. This is an NDDC office on Edjeba land. This is to tell you the people have been suffering. The Urhobo Progress Union, we are saying enough is enough.”
Comrade Umukoro commended those in the struggles in Port-Harcourt and Bayelsa State for sustaining the tempo of the protests, as he assured that he will storm the NDDC Office with the President of Ijaw Youth Council,IYC, Comrade Peter Timothy for the continuation of the Protests.
Also in a chat with newsmen, the President-General of Edjeba Community, Hon.(Chief)Richard Okoro corroborated the claims of the Urhobo Youth President.
He said,”We are here to bare our minds on the marginalization by NDDC to Edjeba Community, to Delta State and Niger Delta.
“NDDC has short changed us for a very long time. Since their existence here,Edjeba Community has not benefitted anything. No employment, no contracts, no development, no infrastructural development.
“12 years ago, they approved a road from Peter Kings road linking Hilltop and to Governor’s Annex, they approved a contractor. After they mobilized the contractor, after the first mobilization, the contractor have done their job to an extent. Till this moment, about 12 years ago, it has been abandoned.”
Hon. Okoro said NDDC paid deaf ears to the Community’s plight despite series of letters written to the Commission.