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NDDC: Protests continue on Monday, IYC insists

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Godswill Akpabio

The meeting between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and representatives of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) seems to have torn the Niger Delta group apart, as the President of IYC, Peter Igbifa, insists that the protests continue tomorrow.

This was after IYC representatives had agreed to back down on the strike after meeting with the minister. Akpabio had met with representatives of the IYC, led by the National Spokesperson, Ebilade Ekerefe, on Thursday in Abuja, to stop the ongoing protest across the nine states of the region to compel the Federal Government to inaugurate a substantive Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board.

Before the protests, IYC Worldwide had given the Presidency a 30-day ultimatum to constitute a substantive NDDC board or risk the region being shut down.

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Addressing newsmen after a meeting with Akpabio, the IYC spokesperson appealed to the youths of Niger Delta region to remain calm and maintain peace in the region, so that people with ulterior motives would not hijack their genuine protests.

“Our position is very clear: The protest was not intended to cause unnecessary havoc in the region. We appeal to the youths to remain calm and not allow hoodlums to hijack the protests. They should not allow people who do not mean well for the region to infiltrate them and take advantage of the peaceful protests.

“We are already in touch with them and they have assured us, because they believe in our leadership. Nobody wants a protest that will not take us anywhere. The essence of the protest is for discussions. And now we’ve discussed with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. We will communicate back to our people that something in the offing will benefit everybody in the region and the youths will be carried along,” he said.

Ekerefa had disclosed that Igbifa, was on his way to Abuja to lead the council to the discussion with the minister when gunmen abducted him.

Igbifa, shortly after his release, said he was not intimidated by the kidnap experience, insisting that the protest must continue on Monday until their demands were met.

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He said: “I am more than ever determined to continue with the protest.” Igbifa disowned some of his executive committee members, led by Ekerefe, who met with Akpabio. He said Ekerefe and his co-travellers were on their own, saying he never authorised the meeting and that whatever agreement they reached with Akpabio was not binding on IYC and the Ijaw nation.

Surprisingly, Ekerefe and IYC Deputy National President, Saviour Olali, in a statement on Thursday night directed the suspension of the three-day protest with effect from 5p.m. on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Meanwhile, the organisers of #OccupyNigerDeltaProtest has slammed Ekerefe for attempting to call off their ongoing protest even as the Federal Government refused to inaugurate a substantive board for NDDC.

The Lead Coordinator, Kennedy Olorogun, said Ekerefe’s statement asking protesters to stop protest was “unfortunate, irresponsible and disappointing.”

But Akpabio appealed to the protesting youths to sheathe their swords and give peace a chance, promising that a board for the NDDC would be constituted after the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari. He recalled that the audit was to be completed within six months, but regretted that the exercise was extended due to the lockdown and logistic challenges.

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Godswill AkpabioIYCNDDC
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