There was heavy security beef-up at the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt yesterday, following planned protests by youths from the Niger Delta region.
The youths, under the aegis of South-South Youth Initiative (SSYI) had announced their plan to protest the delay in the inauguration of a substantive board for the NDDC.
LEADERSHIP observed that security operatives, drawn from the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Army had taken over the main entrance of the interventionist agency’s headquarters, located along Eastern By-Pass, as early as 5:30am.
But, the protesters, who gathered at a distance on the same road, vowed never to back out from the planned protest, despite the intimidating presence of security operatives.
SSYI national president, Imeabe Saviour Oscara, in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt, said they would not relent in their proposed plan to stage a protest against the federal government on its failure to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission, as this has been a source of concern to the people of the oil rich Niger Delta.
He said the continuous delay in this regard means a total neglect to the outcry of the people of the region, who have often demanded that the commission give attention to the development of the region, which is its core mandate.
He said they are worried that while the youths of Niger Delta are making arrangements to hold the peaceful rally, the leadership of the NDDC was sending them threats that the peaceful move would be thwarted.
He alleged that the NDDC is already recruiting some thugs to disrupt the peaceful movement of the youths of the region, adding that this is barbaric and uncalled for. This is even as he reminded the NDDC officials that they are resilient and fearless and no form of threat would stop them.
“We must use this opportunity to inform the NDDC that we the youths of this region are not deterred by their antics to emasculate and shut us up. This protest must go on as we have planned it.
“However, we are calling on the federal government, the Rivers State government, the director DSS, the inspector-general of police to be aware that the NDDC is on the move to ignite the crisis in the region. We have avowed that we will remain peaceful in our demands, but we will not want to be pushed to the wall.
“We also call on youths of the region to come out en masse for this move to restore legitimacy to the NDDC. We further encourage the over 2000 youths that will be taking part in this protest to conduct yourselves peacefully,” he said.