By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Delta State leaders of Ijaw ethnic extraction in the All Progressives Congress (APC) have appealed to the people of the Niger Delta region to give President Muhammadu Buhari a chance to implement his administration’s development agenda for the oil-rich region.
However, the Ijaw APC leaders urged the president also to give the necessary go-ahead for the immediate take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University located in Okerenkoko, Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state.
These were among resolutions at a special meeting of political leaders under the auspices of the Delta Ijaw APC Leaders held at Udu, near Warri, at the instance of Power Ziakede Aginighan, a Christian minister and one-time Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC).
In a communiqué at the end of the well-attended forum, the Ijaw leaders passed a vote of implicit confidence in the ability of the APC under the leadership President Buhari to bring about the desired development of the Niger Delta even more than did former President Goodluck Jonathan who hailed from the oil-rich region.
While denouncing the disruptive activities of emergent militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, the Ijaw APC leaders in the state noted that the Federal Government means well for the region but that the people needed to support Mr President to enable the government execute its development plan for the area.
The group “condemned the recent vandalism of oil installations by the group that styled itself Niger Delta Avengers and called on the security and intelligence services to quickly bring the situation under control.”
It called on “Niger Deltans and indeed all Nigerians to give President Buhari the chance to implement the change agenda of the APC, noting that Mr. President has just signed his first budget into law.
It appealed to President Buhari “to direct the immediate take-off of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta, noting the University was approved by the Federal Executive Council, having met the requirements stipulated by the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC). The meeting also appealed to Mr. President not to be persuaded by the allegations of corruption in connection with projects of the university now before the judiciary to endorse any move to scrap this specialised institution which holds a lot of promise for economic development of Nigeria.”
Moreover, they commended Buhari for “extending the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme beyond the December 31, 2015” initial terminal date as well as for the continued funding of the NDDC Niger and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs inherited from the previous government.
The meeting “discussed ways and means of strengthening” the APC in the 40 electoral wards of the Ijaw in three federal constituencies, Bomadi/Patani, Burutu and Warri in Delta State as well as the state level with a view to taking over the reins of power at the different levels, the communiqué said.
The communiqué was signed by the state financial secretary, Mr Ebiakpo Ezebri, State Assistant Auditor, Mr Alphonsus Feh, Mr Amabiri Paul Azorboh (Chairman APC Bomadi); Mr Joseph Ekiyor (Chairman, APC Patani); Mr Bomienghan Owei (Chairman, APC Burutu); Mr French Ukuto (Chairman, APC Warri North); and Mr Moses Yabrade (Secretary, APC Warri South-West).Aginighan decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in November 2015, leading thousands of other kinsmen and women into the APC with the claim that the PDP had failed to meet his expectation for the overall development of Ijaw-land specially in Delta State.
“I joined the PDP with the expectation that the legitimate yearnings of our people particularly the Delta Ijaw for better living conditions would be met”, the erstwhile governorship aspirant said. “Eleven years after, I have come to the painful conclusion that there is no tangible improvement in the lot of our people.”
He observed that the development situation for the Ijaw Nation in Nigeria had degenerated under the PDP administration to the pre-independence era that prompted the Henry Willinks’ Commission of 1958.