By Emma Arubi
The apex youth body of the Itsekiri Ethnic nationality known as the Itsekiri National Youths Council, INYC, Tuesday commenced what they called mother of all protest against President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees to the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, submitted to the National Assembly for screening and confirmation as it contradict the Act establishing the Commission regarding persons qualify to be so appointed.
Addressing newsmen at the NPA Warri entrance, the president of INYC, Comrade Weyinmi Agbateyiniro said the protest is taking place simultaneously across all Itsekiri oil bearing communities both in Delta and Edo States, expressing disgust over the continued marginalization of the Itsekiri ethnic group that is the highest producer of oil and gas in Delta State and second in Nigeria as a whole.
He reinstated that they bear the greatest brunt of oil and gas production and contribute hugely to the economic and financial growth of Nigeria and wondered why, in spite of the provisions of the NDDC Act that point to the Itsekiris as the next to benefit from NDDC positions this time around, no Itsekiri person was considered fit for appointment to this new board, saying that “we shall not accept this aberration any longer and are prepared to lay down their lives”, he emphasized.
Comrade Agbateyiniro further charge President Buhari and the Amnesty Office to ensure that Itsekiri bursary are paid forthwith to ameliorate their untold hardship as the contributions of the people to national sustainability is unquestionable and therefore do not deserve to be treated shakily as is currently being experienced.
He called on President Buhari to withdraw the nominations immediately and further called on the Senate not to commence any screening exercise at all as it is a recipe for unrest.
They had earlier stated their plight to all relevant authorities without response, noting that “you can’t be appointing persons from non-oil producing areas to the board and living us out always. Enough is Enough”, he stressed.
Hundreds of Itsekiri natives gathered as early as 7am Tuesday morning in front of the Nigerian Ports Authority entrance in a peaceful demonstration to press home their grievances.
Speaking at the occasion, Itsekiri youth leader and Chief, Omolubi Newuwumi appealed to the President to have a rethink on the appointment and do the needful so as to assuage the the peoples grievances before things get out of hand.
Chairman of the INYC, Warri South, Mr. Ofoyeju Izuagie said “it appears the only language the FG understands is violence but we are pleading with our lives on this matter for the right thing to be done or we shall continue with the protest”, he started.
A youth leader who pleaded anonymity said ” we shall see what follows if they continue to disregard and disrespect us for peaceful disposition. Nobody should blame us”, he warned.
The protest was witnessed by all the security agencies in Warri all automated vehicles entering and leaving the Port premises even as the protest it’s second day Wednesday.
There was however a mild drama at the venue when a Hilux load of security personnel tried to forcibly disperse the peaceful protesters but where asked to leave by other security personnel present.