By John Iwori
Former Niger Delta militants have issued a one-week ultimatum to the management of the Niger Development Commission (NDDC) to release the contracts the Federal Government approved for them or face dire consequences.
The erstwhile agitators from the nine NDDC states who were offered amnesty by the Federal Government during the administration of former President Umaru Yar’Adua in a statement by their Spokesman, Mr. Gbene Emer Kagbue stated that they would no longer accept the refusal of NDDC management to release approved contracts to them at the expiration of their ultimatum.
The former warlords in a statement issued in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, and obtained by THISDAY at the weekend urged NDDC to comply with the Federal Government directive on the award of contracts immediately.
The ex-agitators also have an axe to grind with the government intervention agency over some outstanding stipends the commission owes them since 2015.
According to them, the NDDC needed to comply with the Federal Government directives to award certain contracts to them as part of the amnesty programme or be ready for a show down.
Accusing the management of the commission of poor performance since it took over the running of the government intervention agency; the ex-agitators said the commission had not live up to the expectations of the oil producing communities.
“Officials of NDCC have been playing politics with our fate. Contracts approved for us by the Federal Government as part of the amnesty programme have not been given to us till now. These contracts were meant to serve as palliatives for the people of the oil producing communities but the management of NDDC is sitting on them and playing politics with our fate. This is not acceptable. That is why we are giving the commission this one week ultimatum. At the expiration of the ultimatum, we will meet and take a decision on our next level of action”, the statement added.
According to the statement, some of the contracts approved for the erstwhile agitators include road construction, supply and installation of solar energy light system on the streets of the region, as well as contract of cleaning up water hyacinth causing blockage on waterways in the area to reduce high risks of water accidents.
They regretted that it was unfortunate that in spite of how laudable the projects were officials of the NDDC had been frustrating their efforts to secure these contracts.
They called on the Federal Government to wade into the matter by probing into why the commission had not been able to carry out its directive on the award of contracts to the ex-agitators.
They also called on President Muhammad Buhari to reposition and strengthen the commission so that it could be in a position to meet the challenging needs of the region.
They argued that while they are ready to support the policies and programmes of the Federal Government especially on security and peace in Niger Delta region, they will not sit and watch anyone take away their inalienable rights as indigenes of the oil producing areas of the country.