Nigeria’s Economy May Suffer as IYC Plans Protest
Nigeria’s economy may suffer a serious setback following a threat by the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide to shut down oil production in the Niger Delta region from today to protest the refusal of the federal government to constitute the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
As the deadline of the ultimatum narrowed to a few hours yesterday, there were fears that the President of the IYC, Mr. Peter Igbifa had been kidnapped. The Spokesperson of IYC, Mr. Ebilade Ekerefe stated that his group would not recant on their original plan
Replying to a message from THISDAY, he wrote: “The only reason that will stop the IYC from carrying out its threat is the immediate constitution of the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that has become long overdue.”
He said, “The decision was a difficult one, but it’s inevitable as all efforts to draw the attention of the federal government to getting the board constituted has proved abortive. The shutdown will be in phases and we are determined to inconvenience ourselves for the greater good of the region.”
IYC had last month issued a one-month ultimatum to the federal government to constitute the Board of the NDDC, failing which it threatened to shut down oil production activities in the Niger Delta region.
It advised the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to vacate their staff from the region within seven days.
That ultimatum expired yesterday.
Ekerefe denied an accusation that the IYC was acting the script of aggrieved political opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the President should be grateful to stakeholders from the region, “especially the governors for sustaining the peace in the Niger Delta which has stabilised the oil production capacity of the country. It’s on record that the Niger Delta is the most peaceful region, especially, when all parts of the country is suffering from security challenges.”
“The NDDC was established to intervene on developmental issues of the Niger Delta and we agree that the finances of the board have been mismanaged by successive boards, hence, the forensic audit, but for how long? It has become an endless exercise and we’ve lost confidence in it. But if they insist that the forensic auditors would conclude their job, no problem. We don’t have any issue with that. But we insist that the board can still be constituted while the audit is going on just as it was done in the NNPC and the NPA when their financial records were audited forensically. So, for you to say that it is purely an administrative affair then you’re missing the fact. NDDC is a creation of the blood of Ijaw people and like others, we are a critical stakeholder and we’ve a duty to correct any anomaly that will impede on the existing peace. Our demand for a board is legitimate as it is purely in the NDDC Act.”