Niger Delta youths yesterday issued a 14-day ultimatum to gas processing companies operating in the region to remit three per cent of their annual capital budget to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) or face the wrath of the youths.
The youths, under the aegis of Niger Delta Youth Stakeholders Forum, said the companies had refused to contribute to the funding of the NDDC as stipulated in Section 14B of the NDDC Act.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, the National Coordinator of the forum, Mr. Edisemi Yiki, and the Secretary, Mr. Malachy Chukwuka, said the companies had constituted themselves into a cabal to undermine the NDDC.
“We are concerned that the gas processing companies have constituted themselves into a secret cabal with the sole agenda to undermine and rubbish the developmental efforts of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC),” they said.
On why they had to take up the agitation for the payment of the dues the youths said, “The NDDC does not exist all be itself. It exists because of the people; so whatever touches the NDDC and its funding affects the people of the region.”
They said they had discovered that the gas processing companies had failed to comply with the provision of the NDDC Act and as such had committed economic crimes against the people of the region who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the NDDC.
Yiki said in response to a question, “They want to force our youths back to the creeks; that is one of the disadvantages of non-release of the funds meant for the development of the region; They want to encourage another round of militancy because NDDC is father of the youths in the region.”
He expressed confidence in the ability of the present management of the NDDC to deliver on the objectives of the commission and said the youth were willing to support and encourage the commission.
He said: “In the light of the above, we are calling on the gas processing companies to comply with the provisions of the NDDC Act and pay whatever money owed NDDC since 2000 till date within two weeks. Failure to comply with our demand, we will not hesitate to explore every legitimate means to see that the money is released.”
Part of the measures the youth might take, according to Yiki, include “peaceful and sustained protest” around facilities owned by the companies.
He said the forum would seek the protection of the police during the protests which would commence if the companies defied the ultimatum.