The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, has disowned a statement released by its spokesperson, Ebi Ekerefe allegedly attacking the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and claiming that the governor has no rights to stop violent protests in Rivers.
IYC in a statement made by its President, Comrade Timothy Igbifa, said the anti-Wike statement never originated from the council and that its content did not represent the true position of the IYC.
The council insisted that the contents of the anti-Wike’s statement were the opinions of the person, who issued it and warned some persons sponsored by selfish politicians against using the name of the IYC to present personal opinions.
The council said it was disingenuous for anybody to suggest that a governor, who is the chief security officer of a state lacked powers to stop any agitation capable of causing troubles or crisis in a state.
The statement said: “The council at no time authorised the statement, which tried to belittle the Rivers State Governor, downplay his powers and create an impression that the IYC is on a collision course with Governor Nyesom Wike.
“We listened carefully to the governor when he received the Sole Administrator, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Effiong Akwa, who paid him a courtesy visit on February 2nd, 2021.
“Wike specifically said that the NDDC was not the birthright of any ethnic nationality (including his Ikwere ethnic group). The governor also said that he would no longer tolerate protest capable of causing problems and crisis in the state.
“The Governor of Rivers State is not and will not be against genuine and non-violent protest any day any time. The council makes bold to say that the IYC is not at war with the Rivers State Government.
“The governor’s remarks were in line with the position of the IYC’s leadership that the NDDC belongs to the entire Niger Delta region. It was also in harmony with the resolve of the council not to heat up the polity and destabilise the region with unnecessary politically motivated protests, which can degenerate to violence.
“We had earlier said that the council would adopt other means of peaceful agitation to actualize our objectives while protest could be deployed as the final card on the table. Even if at any time we agree as a council to protest, we must consult all stakeholders including governors and make our intentions known to security agencies.
“Therefore, we find it preposterous, disrespectful, unwarranted and dishonourable for anybody to try to twist and personalise Governor Wike’s remarks, which at best should have been viewed as a piece of advice from a critical stakeholder.
The statement further explained that Wike and other governors in the region remained critical partners in the region alongside the Ministers and others.
“The Peter Timothy Igbifa-led IYC will continue to work with all the governors of the region, other ethnic nationalities and leaders from across the Niger Delta to achieve the mandate of the IYC in the overall interest of the Ijaw nation.
“IYC cannot operate in isolation. And before we roll out any action plan that can affect other ethnic nationalities in the region, we must engage, consult and bring them to the same page as part of our bridge-building approach”, the statement said.
It further warned politicians trying to sow a seed of discord and create division in the IYC through some disloyal officials of the council, who lacked respect for due process and constituted authority, to steer clear of the body.
It will be recalled that in December 2020, Ijaw News reported that there seems to be a crack in the executive committee of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) as the organization’s spokesperson, Ebilade Ekerefe distanced the IYC from the statement credited to the president of the council, Timothy Igbifa on the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Igbifa had demanded the sack of the Kemebradikumo Pondei-led IMC board, stressing that what the people of the Niger Delta needed is a substantive board.
Igbifa also accused the IMC of not being in touch with the people of the region saying that there is a big disconnect between the Pondei’s board and the people of the region.
However, Ekerefe refuted the position of Igbifa, saying that what the IYC President said was his personal position and not the view of Ijaw youths.
While describing the call for the sack of IMC as “untrue”, Ekerefe noted that the position of Ijaw youths is reflected in the recent seven-point demands presented by the South South Governors during the last stakeholders meeting held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He maintained that instead of calling for the sack of the Pondei-led IMC, the sponsors of the purported report should focus on calling on President Buhari to focus on an appreciable increase in the funding allocated to the NDDC for smooth and effective delivery of the Federal Government mandate to the region.
The IYC spokesman further urged President Buhari to prevail on the oil multinationals to ensure the 3 percent contributions to the NDDC account as provided in the Act establishing the Commission to ensure more development for oil communities in the region.
Ekerefe blamed the under performance of the agency on “too much interference by government and political class.”
According to him, “what he expect the sponsors of the report to do is to intensify call on President Buhari to pay all outstanding allocation owed the NDDC. Also, increase its funding to meet up to the developmental challenges of the region occasioned by perennial flooding and the amendment of the Act establishing the NDDC to include a ‘deterrent clause’ to multinational oil companies which have refused to pay their obligatory three percent contributions to the NDDC to fast-track development in the fragile region.