The umbrella body of the Ijaw Youths Worldwide, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) has frowned at the slow pace of development in the Niger Delta region, which it attributed to lack of adequate funding by the Federal Government, as well as the refusal of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to meet their financial obligations as enshrined in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act.
The Spokesman for the Council, Ebilade Ekerefe in a statement issued in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, yesterday noted that rather than focusing on effective ways of funding the NDDC for proper development of the region, the Federal Government was busy playing politics with the development of the region. According to Ekerefe, the federal government and the IOCs are more culpable of inadequately funding of NDDC and for failure to meet their financial obligations as enshrined in the NDDC Act, which could have accelerated development, created jobs and sustained the existing relative peace in the once volatile region.
He said: “The Ijaw Youths Council frowns seriously at the Federal Government for using proxies to divert the attention of our people from asking the real questions of adequate funding of the NDDC which has become the bane of the region’s development in recent years.
“The international oil companies, which are supposed to pay royalties to the Commission as enshrined in the NDDC Act, are collaborating with outsiders who want our region to be perpetually underdeveloped. “As we speak today, there are backlogs of projects completed by indigenous contractors whose funds have not been paid by the Commission due to lack of funds. How do you want the people to survive when most of them are breadwinners of their families and communities? “You cannot continue to treat the development of the Niger Delta region with kid gloves and expect us to be quiet when the North East Development Commission is uninhibitedly funded. “This nonsense must stop. We are equal partners in the Nigerian project and every region should be treated equally.
You cannot accelerate the funding of developmental projects in the North and keep our region helpless despite our contributions to the economic survival of this country. The East-West Road is still wallowing in a deplorable state even after N20 billion had been approved by the Federal Government, and nothing to show. “The rainfall is here and communities in the Niger Delta have been washed away as a result of flood and the erosions. The NDDC is a major interventionist agency that gives succour to our people in their most challenging times. When you stifle the funds of the Commission, you are indirectly creating more hardship and youth restiveness on the land.” He, therefore, called on the Federal Government and the IOC’s to urgently do the needful for the greater good of the country.