IYC Protest: Nigeria’s Economy may suffer a serious setback

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Nigeria’s economy might endure a serious drawback if the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide carries out its threat to shut down oil production from the Niger Delta region from today to protest the refusal of the Federal Government to constitute the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Information from CEIC Data sets Nigeria’s crude oil production in April 2021 in 1,548,000 barrels per day.

The Nigerian government’s 2021 Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience was based on a premise that oil production will be 1.86 million and a benchmark oil price of $40/barrel. On the other hand, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic dealt a terrible blow on the markets of many nations including Nigeria and forced the government to revise its calculations.

As the deadline of the ultimatum narrowed to a few hours there were concerns that the President of the IYC, Mr. Peter Igbifa was contested.

The Spokesperson of IYC,” Mr. Ebilade Ekerefe stated that his group would not recant on their first strategy Replying to a message from THISDAY, he wrote, “The only reason that will stop the IYC from carrying out its threat is that the immediate constitution of this purposeful board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which has come to be long overdue.”

He stated, “The choice was a difficult one, but it’s inevitable as all attempts to draw the interest of the Federal Government to obtain the board comprised has proved abortive. The shutdown will be in stages and we’re determined to inconvenience ourselves for the greater good of the region.”

Last month, the IYC issued a one-month ultimatum to the Federal Government to constitute the Board of the NDDC, failing which it threatened to shut down oil production activities in the Niger Delta region and advised the International Oil Companies to vacate their employees from the region within seven days.
This ultimatum expired yesterday.

Ekerefe refused an accusation the IYC was behaving the script of aggrieved political rivals of President Muhammadu Buhari. He said the President should be grateful to stakeholders from the area, “especially the governors for sustaining the peace in the Niger Delta that has stabilized the petroleum generation capacity of the country. It is on record that the Niger Delta is the quietest region, particularly, when all areas of the nation are afflicted by security challenges”

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Driving home the value of the protest, Ekerefe said, “The NDDC was established to intervene on developmental issues of the Niger Delta and we agree that the financing of the board was mismanaged by successive boards, therefore, the forensic analysis, but for how long? It has come to be an infinite exercise and we’ve lost confidence in it. But if they insist on the forensic auditors would complete their job, no problem. We do not have any issue with that. But we insist that the board can still be comprised while the audit is happening. Just as it had been done in the NNPC and the NPA if their fiscal records were audited forensically. So that you say it is simply an administrative affair then you’re overlooking the fact. NDDC is a generation of the bloodstream of Ijaw people and like many others, we are a crucial stakeholder and we have a responsibility to fix any sin that can impede on the existing peace. Our requirement for a plank is legitimate as it is purely in the NDDC Act. All we need from Mr President would be to constitute the board as the North-East Development Commission is conducted by a substantive board rather than a Sole Administrator. But it is deliberately done to undermine our folks and the region.”

Initially, the forensic audit, which has been the justification advanced by the Minister for not constituting the NDDC Board was going to last for six weeks. From six months, it had been extended to one year. The IMC beneath Prof. Keme Pondei was sacked on grounds of a court ruling in December this past year.

The new timetable that may result in the inauguration of the NDDC Board as announced by the Minister terminates in July. However, Ekerefe said Mr. Akpabio cannot be trusted because he’d defaulted on past deadlines set by him.

Contacted for the Minister’s position, his press aide, Mr. Anietie Ekong delivered a terse,”I will get back to you personally,” but never did.

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