By Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa
A Niger Delta youth leader, Mr Kenedy Tonjo-West, on Monday urged the chief of staff to the president, Abba Kyari, to intervene in the lingering leadership crisis in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Tonjo-West said the call to Kyari to intervene in the impasse between the legislators and Sen.Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, over the inauguration of the board members of NDDC was based on Kyari’s competence as an astute administrator.
Newly appointed board of the commission is awaiting inauguration, while Akpabio has appointed an Interim Management Committee to probe NDDC’s finances and run the commission for six months.
The National Assembly had said it would not have any dealing with the committee during the 2020 budget defence sessions, saying there was no provision for the committee in the NDDC Act.
Tonjo-West, a former senior special assistant to Bayelsa governor on Niger Delta Youth Matters, said in Yenagoa that the impasse was an impediment to the commission’s progress.
He said that the impasse might affect NDDC’s appropriation for the 2020 fiscal year, if steps were not taken to resolve it.
According to him, if appropriation is affected, it will have dire consequences for development in the region. The youth leader further said that Niger Delta youths were getting more aware of their roles and responsibilities in shaping their future. He said that youths of the region saw crisis in NDDC as” an ill wind that does no good to the region.
“We have watched carefully the proactive and objective disposition of the chief of staff to the president in handling issues that have to do with the presidency and members of its cabinet, especially when they concern policies, and reforms of government and the citizens.
“This is the first time the president is delegating his powers to the minister for the purpose of creating a healthy relationship between the people and their own vis-à-vis development of the region.
“We commend the senate leadership for standing their ground in ensuring that the right thing be done, which is to allow the board to commence work.
“The way the youth leaders are feeling about the crisis suggests to me that trouble is looming should our plans to urge Kyari to persuade the president to prevail on the minister to do the needful fails.
“The patience of the youths, who are eager to see the development plan of the federal government materialise in concrete ways is running out.
“The earlier the board comes on stream to settle the plethora of issues that have been left unattended to, the better for our safety and peace.
“We appreciate the minister’s efforts in looking into the records and the finances of NDDC, we are totally in support of the audit to ensure probity and accountability of public funds.
“However, we feel that delaying the inauguration of the board and denying them the space to work or delaying the recognition is certainly a drawback to our overall progress.
“Inauguration of the board remains the wish, aspiration and views of the people of Niger Delta as the selection process for membership was democratic and representative of the entire region,” Tonjo-West said.
He further said that the president consulted widely and met with Niger Delta governors before the board was constituted.
He therefore urged stakeholders to close ranks and give the board the support to succeed in driving development in the region.