A coalition of ex-militants in Akwa Ibom State under the aegis of “Unyekisong Akwa Ibom” has given a fourteen-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to reconstitute a substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission that would pilot the affairs of the agency.
The group threatened to embark on a nationwide protest and to shut down all the Federal Government projects, parastatals, and the NDDC offices if its demands are not met within 14 days of issuance.
In a statement by Dede Udofia and Ibanga Ekeng, on behalf of the body on Friday, the group lamented that the non-constitution of a substantive board has reduced the agency to a mere regional outfit without positive impact and promoted massive fraud.
The group argued that it was illegal for the Interim Management Committee to supervise the forensic audit of the agency.
They also called for the immediate removal of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio and the restructuring of the Amnesty office to make it more functional.
The statement reads in part “We view the appointment of an Interim Management Committee and now a Sole Administrator to run the affairs of the NDDC as well as oversee the so-called NDDC forensic audit as illegal, even when the nominees for the new NDDC Board had already been screened and confirmed by the Senate in 2019.
“Without mincing words, this blatant disregard to the decision of the highest law-making organ in the land with regards to the properly-conducted screening exercise has succeeded in enhancing the perpetration of fraud, financial recklessness and mismanagement of the region’s economic resources by a few power-seeking individuals.
“It has also resulted in the non-representation of the nine Niger Delta states in the Commission for the past nineteen months thus robbing these member states of the benefits from the Commission’s activities.
“It has also succeeded in shortchanging the people of the region as well as results in the gross abuse of procedures and laid-down processes. It would also be an understatement to say that projects undertaken during the period are done without due diligence.
Under the current dispensation, the NDDC has been reduced to a mere regional outfit without any significant mandate or positive impact.
For the first time in the history of the Commission, the Supervisory body (Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs) is now directing the day-to-day activities of the Commission which is supposed to be autonomous, and which was so during the time the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was supervising the Commission. Now the Commission is operating as an appendage of the Ministry.
“This is all due to the manipulation of the entire process by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio who is noted for his uncanny craving for the acquisition of absolute power.
“We, therefore, demand for his immediate removal from the position of Minister of Niger Delta Affairs as he has proven to be the major problem to the Niger Delta region today.
“The Amnesty Programme must also be urgently restructured with the appointment of a substantive Special Adviser to the President/Coordinator to make the agency functional. The Office of the National Security Adviser to the President should also be relieved of its role as the supervisor of the Programme, as the NSA has only succeeded in worsening the activities of the Amnesty Office.
“The NSA’s office cannot even effectively handle the current security challenges in the country but is rather busy siphoning funds appropriated for the Amnesty Programme. UNYEKISONG can no longer keep silent, while a few blood-thirsty and money-hungry politicians continue to vandalize the resources of the Niger Delta region at the expense of the suffering masses.
“Let it be stated for the avoidance of doubt that we have already started mobilizing and if the Federal Government fails to meet these demands on or before 14 days from the day of this press release, we shall be left with no other option than to embark on mass protests and shut-down of all major federal government projects and parastatals including Exxon Mobil and NDDC until this issue is urgently and properly addressed”