NDDC urges U.S. to caution Niger Delta politicians against violence
Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, has charged the United States of America (U.S.A.) to prevail on Niger Delta politicians to eschew violence ahead of the 2019 polls. Ekere stated this when a delegation of the United States Consulate in Lagos, led by the Consul-General, John Bray, visited the commission’s office in Port Harcourt yesterday.
He expressed worries that peace and security in the Niger Delta are required to facilitate sustainable development of the region, stressing that politicians should not plunge the region into fresh crisis.
“It is noteworthy that you are coming at the auspicious moment of our political season. We expect some assistance from the U.S. government. We have specific concerns in the Niger Delta, especially during election period like this, mostly in the area of security.
“The U.S. government can use its influence to prevail on our politicians to allow democracy to thrive in Nigeria. If politicians can play by the rules, it will help in maintaining peace and security during and after the elections,” he said. Ekere explained that Bray’s visit was re-assuring, as it showed that the world’s foremost democracy was always thinking about and working on ways to collaborate and deepen conversation on the challenges and growth of the country and the Niger Delta region in particular.
“We have made appreciable progress in reforming the commission to better deliver on its mandate to the Niger Delta people and to Nigerians,” he said. Ekere, however, lamented that a lot of the youths lend themselves to be used by politicians as thugs due largely to unemployment and poverty.
Responding, Bray stated that the U.S. government was committed to ensuring credible elections in Nigeria in 2019 and beyond.“The U.S. government does not support any candidates. We support a clean fair process in which the choices of the Nigerian people will prevail. The interest of the United States is to see a free, fair, transparent and non-violent election in Nigeria in 2019,” he said.
He explained that it was important to keep an eye on the development programmes in the Niger Delta region as the 2019 elections draw nearer.“As part of that process, we are visiting key political institutions and figures to work out ways in which our government can engage with Nigerians, candidates, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies, as the elections approach,” he added.