The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has identified the ongoing delay in the payment of students under the scholarship scheme of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as a fresh threat to the fragile peace in the Niger Delta region.
The new President of IYC, Peter Igbifa, who spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday, described the conditions of the affected students in abroad as pitiable and unacceptable.
He said the youths were agitated to see their kinsmen carrying placards abroad to protest neglect by the NDDC and the Federal Government while huge resources belonging to their region were being diverted and squandered on frivolous activities.
“I watched the recent protest by the scholars and I was moved into tears. It is embarrassing, shameful and unacceptable to see our ambassadors abandoned and neglected by the NDDC and the Federal Government.
“Since my emergence as the 8th President of the IYC, this is one major issue that has been threatning the fragile peace and causing tension in the region.
“I have had to hold several meetings to calm down frayed nerves, who wanted to start fresh violent agitation over the suffering of our kinsmen sent abroad to study by NDDC.
“There is a limit to which I can hold them back. If something drastic and urgent is not done to settle the financial obligations of these scholars, I am afraid, the temper will boil over and anything can happen,” Igbifa said.
The IYC boss wondered why sensitive issues affecting the region were not given the required swift attention by the responsible authorities despite the huge revenue accruing to the country from the Niger Delta.
Igbifa called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the security chiefs to treat the issues of the abandoned Niger Delta students abroad as a matter of national emergency.
He said: “This is not the time to shift blames. The youths in the region are already angry and they don’t want to listen to any blame games.
“They don’t want the Federal Government to blame the NDDC and they don’t want the NDDC to blame the National Assembly or the coronavirus pandemic. What they are expecting is an end to this shame.
“The NDDC management is appointed by the Presidency and it expected that the commission should be supervised strictly by the Presidency to ensure it lives up to the mandate of the NDDC Act.
“If it fails it means the federal has also failed in its supervisory role. Therefore, all of them have failed the Niger Delta.
“We hold them responsible for allowing this matter to degenerate to this embarrassing level.
“We want them to know that a new leadership of the IYC is on board and under my watch, the council, which is the umbrella body of all Ijaw youths worldwide will not tolerate this degree of recklessness”.
Igbifa appealed to Buhari to avert emerging crisis in the region by urgently giving directives to responsible authorities including the NDDC to settle the financial obligations of the abandoned students.