The Ijaw National Congress (INC) has called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to address the brewing agitations in the Niger Delta especially the “continued delay of the inauguration of a substantive board for the NDDC”, which it said, “is an inexplicable aberration that defies logical reasoning and is infuriating the region.”
The President of INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, in a statement in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Saturday, said the timely intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari would douse the growing tension in the region.
Okaba highlighted the issues, which he described as evil against the Ijaw nation and the region, to include “the continued existence of the grossly illegal vehicle of Interim Administration at the NDDC and the monumental deception of the Presidency of the Niger Delta Region by the Interim contraption and its promoters.”
According to the INC President, “the rape, emasculation and waste of the commonwealth of the Region by those charged with its efficient use, the abuse of propriety and self-enrichment of a select few to the detriment of regional development, and the futility of the exercise of a forensic audit that is rumoured to be cloaked in so much shame and ineptitude that it might never see the light of day,” are of great concern to the people.
Okaba maintained that the “continued delay of the inauguration of a substantive board for the NDDC is an inexplicable aberration that defies logical reasoning and is infuriating the region.”
He said, “The general feeling is that the region has been auctioned off to one man to do with it as he pleases. According to the INC President, “we feel inclined to let you know so that you might take prompt action. If you do not take prompt action and the indigenous cross-cultural and multi-ethnic feelings of discontentment assume critical mass and become kinetic, we can do nothing to hold things back.”
Professor Okaba noted with dismay that “we have verified reports that peaceful Ijaw protesters from the host community of the NDDC, were brutalized, beaten and injured, while the women were molested and abused by thugs working for, and on the orders of the Interim Administrator.”
He also stated that “we have reports which we are currently investigating that, emboldened by the onslaught on the Ijaw community, there is an attempt to procure the services of Ijaw ex-agitators to cause mayhem and unrest within the region.”
According to the INC President, “the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs no longer enjoys the support and goodwill of the people of the Niger Delta,” stressing that his “continued imposition on the area is unfortunate and counter-productive for both Federal Government and the region.”
Okaba stated that the INC should not be blamed for any “breach of security if the boiling anger in the Niger Delta results in the breakdown of law and order as the people are fed up with the lacklustre approach of the President to the outlined issues,” stating that “we would be blameless, the groundswell of discontentment has assumed such dimensions, that we cannot know who to hold responsible.”
He also regretted “the deliberate non-inclusion of any roads in Ijaw territories in the N621.237bn Federal Government Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme to be carried out by the NNPC. It is even more vexatious that the entire South-South region that sustains the country has the least of kilometres (81.9km) to be covered. This marginalization in national infrastructure development is totally unacceptable.”
Okaba said the people of the region have resolved not to condone any further use of thugs to beat up young men and molest women in the region, and the people will henceforth not condone any attempt to procure Ijaws to wage war against fellow Ijaws and to stir up unrest and mayhem within the region.
He noted that “we are the conscience of the region. The full gamut of multiethnic nationalities in the region regard us as the Omega Line of Appeal. And this is what we are doing through this medium.”
The INC President regretted the “silence of our friends who would rather watch while our future and that of our unborn children is being mismanaged by a handful of empowered people.”