There was a heavy security beef-up at the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, following planned protest by youths from the Niger Delta region.
The youths, under the auspices of the South-South Youth Initiative (SSYI) had announced their plan to protest over 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 (NSCDC), the Department of State Services (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 Oscar, in a statement made available to journalists in Port Harcourt, said: ”SSYI, wishes to use this opportunity to state unequivocally that we are not relenting on our proposed plan to stage a protest against the federal government on its failure to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, as this has been a source of concern to the people of the oil rich Niger Delta.
“The continuous delay in this regard to us 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.
“But, we are worried that while the youths of Niger Delta are making arrangements to hold the peaceful rally to drive down their demand, that the leadership of the NDDC were sending us treats that the peaceful move would be thwarted.
“We have gathered that the NDDC is already recruiting some thugs to disrupt the peaceful move of the youths of the region. This is barbaric and uncalled for. We would want to remind them that our youths are resilient and fearless and no form of threat will stop us.
“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 crisis in the region. We have avowed that we will remains peaceful in our demands, but we will not want to be pushed to wall.
“We also call on youths of the region to come out en masse for this move to restore legitimacy on the NDDC. We further encourage the over 2000 youths that will be taking part in this protest to conduct yourselves peacefully.”