The appeal was made by the leadership of the Council after a consultative meeting with the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio in Abuja. Addressing a press conference after the meeting, the National Spokesperson of the Ijaw Youth Council, Comrade Ebilade Ekerefe called on his protesting members in the region to remain calm and peaceful.
It will be recalled that the Ijaw Youth Council, Worldwide had given a 30-day ultimatum to the Presidency to constitute a substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) or risk the region being shut down. According to Comrade Ekerefe the issue of the constitution of the board which ignited the protest was being addressed by the Federal Government through the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
According to Comrade Ekerefe: “Our position is very clear: The protest was not intended to cause unnecessary havoc in the region. Now that the protests are going on, 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.
“And we’re 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 Honouable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
“Immediately after now, we will communicate back to our people that something is in the offing that will benefit everybody in the region and the youths will be carried along.
“As far as we are concerned, the strike is no longer necessary. The national leadership is here. Immediately we go back, we will meet with our people to report the progresss we have made and I can assure you that there will be no more protests,” he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio appealed to the protesting youths to sheath their swords and give peace a chance. Senator Akpabio said the Niger Delta which has has been one of the most peaceful regions in the country, should not allow itself to be plunged into crises, promising that the issues which led to the protests were being addressed.
According to Senator Akpabio, a board for the NDDC would be constituted after the conclusion of the forensic audit ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari. The Minister recalled that the audit exercise was to be completed within six months but regretted that the exercise was extended due to the national lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of Corona Virus and logistical challenges.
He disclosed that the forensic auditors have already submitted two interim reports to the President, adding that by July the auditors are expected to submit the final report to pave the way for the inauguration of the board. He appealed to the youths to resist the attempts by unscrupulous politicians and contractors to use them to cause crises in the region.