Bayelsa State elders and youths have vowed to continue their protest today (Monday) until the Presidency confirms the acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, as the substantive boss of the agency.
The protesters took to the streets on Saturday in Yenagoa over the delay in the confirmation of Brambaifa’s appointment.
They called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately confirm Brambaifa, who has been in an acting capacity for four months, as the substantive managing director of the agency.
The elders, who took their protest to the Yenagoa office of the NDDC, caused a gridlock on the Mbiama-Yenagoa Expressway as motorists and commuters were stranded for hours.
The protesters said despite the campaign of calumny against the NDDC management, the agency under Brambaifa had remained focussed on its mission to actualise the vision of Buhari in the Niger Delta.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘President Buhari, please confirm Prof. Nelson Brambaifa as the MD of the NDDC board’, ‘Let Prof. Brambaifa continue as MD of NDDC’, ‘Bayelsans are solidly behind you as MD of NDDC’, ‘The only person we want is Brambaifa as MD NDDC’ and ‘NDDC board is secured with Prof. Brambaifa’.
In his address, the representative of the Bayelsa Elders and former Security Adviser to the Bayelsa State Government, Perekeme Kpodoh, said the NDDC had come of age and should be ready to develop the Niger Delta region.
“But we have seen that since its inception, we don’t have development and today, we have a son from Bayelsa, who is Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, and four months only, he has changed the tide,” Kpodoh stated.
Also speaking, the President, Attisa Youth Council, Richard Giani, noted that the call for Branbaifa’s confirmation was based on his performance in office in the last four months.
“My point here is very simple; for four months now that Brambaifa has been the acting MD of the NDDC, we can see the giants strides, roads are everywhere, even the waterways are calm and he is tackling security issues,” he said.
Receiving the protesters, the Bayelsa Coordinator of the NDDC, Francis Kolokolo, commended the protesters for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner.
Meanwhile, chiefs in Nembe, a coastal community in the state, have lauded the NDDC for completing the N24bn Ogbia-Nembe Road, which has created access to the community on land for the first time in its history.
A statement on Sunday by the NDDC Corporate Affairs Director, Mr Charles Odili, quoted Brambaifa as saying that the road, constructed in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company and covering 29 kilometres through a swampy terrain with spurs to 14 other communities, would be opened shortly.
Speaking in an interview in Nembe on Saturday, the Opu Nembe Bassambiri Council of Chiefs, through its secretary, Chief Afrebo Okpoma, said with the completion of the Ogbia-Nembe Road, the communities in the area had been spared the dangers of travelling through the waterways.
“Before the road, we were travelling through the waterways, but since the road has been completed, we now drive in with our vehicles,” Okpoma said.
He added that the construction of the road had reduced the rate of theft in the communities, adding, “When we were travelling through the waterways, there was always these bad boys confronting the passengers and robbing them.
“There was this fear each time we were travelling that the bad boys might be there. But since this road was constructed, we no longer witness such ugly incidents.
“Secondly, commercial activities have increased. Our Igbo brothers, who are not good swimmers, were not coming here to trade when we were coming through the waterways. But since the road has been completed, the Igbo traders are now coming in with their goods during our market days.”