ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Niger Delta youths under the auspices of the 21st Century Youths of the Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience have backed the Ijaw National Congress (INC) on meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
The youth also carpeted an Ijaw activist and leader, Ms Annkio Briggs, on her jibes at the umbrella body of Ijaw elders and leaders after the meeting.
Briggs had reportedly accused the Prof. Benjamin Okaba-led INC of betraying and misrepresenting the Ijaw cause during the meeting held recently at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
But the 21st CYNDAC in a statement on Tuesday by its Coordinator, Izon Ebi, said the INC from their positions at the parley did not in any way deviate from or betray the Ijaw cause.
The group said the INC should be commended for speaking truth to power on the stand of the Ijaw on true federalism, restructuring and the conditions under which they would continue to be committed to the Nigerian project, among others.
The group said: “We view the criticism by Annkio Briggs-led elders as a political move and decoy to undermine the INC and its leadership, cause confusion in the region to halt the forensic audit and the inauguration of the incoming substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“We see their jibe at the INC as a means to shield the guilty leaders hiding from indictment which they would face if the forensic audit is concluded. The Benjamin Okaba-led INC’s communique to President Buhari represents the views and aspirations of the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta people, while the counter-statement and accusations do not.
“We condemn the clandestine move of Briggs-led elders to undermine the INC and cause confusion to afflict pains on the people and bring down their political targets to further enslave the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta amid their God-given resources.
“We repeat that the era of slave-master perpetual servitude is over for good in the Niger Delta region. Therefore, we are not going to allow it happen and want to warn that if anything goes wrong in the region, those fanning the embers of hatred and division should be held responsible.
“Their political relevance and tendency to always want to be noticed has now given birth to the resurfacing of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) issuing threats of renewed hostilities which is not acceptable by us because it will endanger the lives of the vulnerable community dwellers and innocent political targets.
“We don’t want hostility and confusion again in the Niger Delta since the INC is in charge and has spoken the minds of the Ijaw nation. We therefore stand with the INC and the Ijaw nation to sustain the peace for meaningful dialogue since it is the best civilized way to address issues confronting the region.”
The group also threw weight behind the comment credited to the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the recommendation and outcome of the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC would be implemented by the new board that would be inaugurated soon.
It believed that the implementation of the outcome of the forensic audit would reposition the NDDC for effective service delivery in the region.
The 21st CYNDAC added: “Therefore, we call on all Niger Delta people to be patient and see reason with Akpabio because he means well with the calibre of names and personalities forwarded to Mr President for the substantive board.”