Commuters stranded on East-West road as Ijaw youths protest against NDDC crisis
Hundreds of commuters were stranded for several hours yesterday, as Ijaw youths blocked the Bayelsa State axis of the East-West road, while protesting against the appointment of a Sole Administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Protesting under the aegis of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, they blocked the Mbiama-Yenagoa junction of the road as early as 6:30a.m.
The youths intercepted trucks and other heavy vehicles and used them to barricade the road, leaving hundreds of travellers stranded for over three hours.
Attempts by some soldiers to intervene with Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) could not deter the protesting youths, as they chanted solidarity songs, insisting on the appointment of a substantive board for the NDDC.
A former Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government (SSG), Dr. Godknows Igali, who was caught in the gridlock also tried to persuade them to leave, but he could not prevail on them.
Most of the early morning travellers, who were caught in the gridlock, expressed disgust over the long hours they had to spend on a spot.
They carried placards with inscriptions as, “Akpabio Focus On Your Ministry,” “President Buhari Adhere To South-South Governors’ Demands,” “Appoint Substantive NDDC Board,” and We Don’t Want A Sole Administrator For NDDC,” among others, insisting that the appointment of a Sole Administrator would fuel crisis in the region.
Led by National Spokesman of the IYC, Ebilade Ekerefe, National Treasurer, Ebifoubo Timilaemi and Central Zonal Chairman, Clever Inodu, among others, they accused Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, of playing politics with the NDDC and undermining the region’s development for his selfish interests.
Ebilade said: “We are here because the development in the Niger Delta has come to a point where we must take some strategic and decisive action. We call on the Federal Government to pay more attention to the plight of the Niger Delta people.
“The NDDC has been in limbo for over a year. Nothing serious is happening in the NDDC and majority of the people and the economy of the Niger Delta depend on the commission. And if they continue to play politics with development of the region, we have a duty to speak out and defend our people.”
Also speaking, Inodu pointed out that the decision to embark on the protest was to insist that the Niger Delta people were demanding true federalism and restructuring of the country.
On his part, Timilaemi urged Akpabio to focus on the completion of the East-West road project instead of playing dirty politics with the affairs of the NDDC.