By, Uchechukwu Ugboaja & Etete Enideneze
In the wake of recent developments in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), thousands of early morning travelers along the East-West road were stranded yesterday for hours following the angry protest by Ijaw Youths over the appointment of Effiong Okon-Awka as NDDC Sole Administrator, an appointment that has been equally criticized by many stakeholders from the region, notable among them is Prof Steve Azaiki, OON, Honorable Member representing, Yenagoa/Kolokuma-Opokuma Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State.
The protesting youths, arrived the East -West along the Mbiama axis at about 6.30am in protest against the appointment of Effiong Okon-Akwa, as the Interim Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa, who was appointed by President Mohammed Buhari last week, has provoked anger among stakeholders and Youths from the region who demanded the setting up of a substantive management board for the region.
Mr. Effiong Okon Akwa was the Ag. Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Commission, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, and a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria before his appointment.
The protest on Monday, led Ebilade Ekerefe, Spokesman of IYC, the Chairman of the Central Zone of IYC, Comrade Inodu Clever and Treasurer of IYC accused the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio of pocketing the region and playing politics with NDDC thereby undermining the region development for selfish gains .
Comrade Ebilade said “Niger Delta is not your personal estate ; you cannot pocket a region .We say no to the appointment of a sole administrator. Sole administrator is alien to NDDC act”.
The blockage has led to heavy traffic gridlock with travelers plying the route stranded .
According to Prof. Steve Azaiki, in a statement posted on his social media platform (Facebook), said;
“I join the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives to condemn the action of the Federal Government in encouraging corruption and depriving the people of Niger Delta by removing the acting MD of NDDC and appointing a Sole Administrator, instead of setting up the Board as stipulated in the NDDC Act. This singular decision has shown how insensitive the Federal Government is to Niger Delta people. A Sole Administrator is recipe for corruption, nepotism, tribalism, and designed to cripple the Commission, promote revelry, promote political negativity and make the Sole Administrator an Emperor. It is catastrophic and smells of an agenda to keep the people of the Niger Delta poor, backward, underdeveloped and politically locked-up or comatose. We resist this mentality of rub Paul to pay Peter. The President should set up immediately the NDDC Board.”
Prof. Steve Azaiki, who understands the critical role of an interventionist agency such as the NNDC for the region, has himself recently embarked on several empowerment programs such as the training/capacity building of women and youths as well as the provision of 300 sewing machines to same; IT/Computer training and Empowerment of youths; Soap making training and empowerment schemes; Solar light Installation in rural communities; Fish Farming/Pond provision and training including empowerment; Pumping Machine Provision to enhance water schemes and irrigation for farming. The legislator has also focused on human capital development as he has embarked on a robust rehabilitation of teachers’ accommodation for selected Primary Schools and renovation in his Yelga/Kolga Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State.