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Akpabio blames delay in NDDC board on lack of budget, others

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Akpabio

Ijaw youth shut down commission’s offices in A’Ibom, Rivers

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio has declared that the delay in the inauguration of a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was due to lack of budgetary allocation, poor logistics and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Akpabio, who stated this yesterday in Abuja after a meeting with the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) blamed the protests in the region on lack of communication between the government and the youths, maintaining that the youths have understood that the ministry was not behind the delay in the inauguration of the NDDC board.

He said it was not out of place for youths and elders of the region to agitate for a board to re-position the NDDC based on the fact that the agency had failed to leave up to expectations for over 19 years of its existence.

The minister assured that the Federal Government was in the process of reviewing the issues that necessitated the protest to ensure that urgent steps were taken to sustain the peace in the region.

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Akpabio said he has assured youths that the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC is in the interest of the region and future of the commission, adding: “Even the staff members of the NDDC are interested in the forensic audit because it will enable them to secure their pension after retirement.”

ALSO, Akwa Ibom State chapter of IYC has shut down the state office of the NDDC to protest against the delay in the inauguration of the commission’s board after six months.

The group which embarked on a peaceful protest in Uyo yesterday, stressed that they would not vacate the office premises until an agreement was reached, blaming the Federal Government for not responding to their one-month ultimatum given to them over the constitution of a substantive board.

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Leader of the protest, Uruang Solomonking, cautioned the Federal Government against remitting $1.6 billion to the NDDC until a new board was duly constituted in line with the constitution.

MEANWHILE, Ijaw youths also shut down the NDDC Headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, following the expiration of the deadline given to the Federal Government over announcing a substantive board of the commission.

The youths numbering hundreds erected two tents in front of the main entrance of the complex singing and dancing to solidarity songs.

Assistant Secretary of IYC, Eastern Zone, Ibiso Harry, said the group’s national President, Peter Igbifa, directed the action.

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