By Amgbare Ekaunkumo, Yenagoa
The Chairman Board of Trustees, Niger Delta Youth for Peace and Progress, Comrade Kennedy West, who is a frontline activist has warned that the region is sitting on a keg of gun powder that will eventually trigger off another round of crisis if urgent steps are not taken to appease and meet the demands of the repentant agitators.
He noted that public office holders at federal and state levels have failed the people of the region and accused them of high level of conspiracy to keep impoverishing the people..
He made the statement in an exclusive interview with DAILY WATCH on Tuesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
He averred that the two interventionist agencies established to meaningfully engaged the youths of the area and restrain them from violence have been systematically shut down and converted to the ATM machines of the managers and their overlords to the detriment of the target beneficiaries.
Commenting on the lull in activities of the Amnesty office, the Niger Delta activist said there is a grand conspiracy to impoverish the region and expressed regret that the universities where the youths are studying are currently having online exams, but our youths can not participate because the institutions want their tuition fees paid, and the office is not in a position to respond expediciously because of the absence of a substantive coordinator to attend to the demands of the affected students.Those engaged in one vocational work or the other are stranded because they can not continue due non payment.
West stated that payment of monthly stipends to repentant agitators is not a sustainable form of empowerment rather it is impoverishing them.
He called for sustenance of the various training programmes through sincerity of purpose from federal government to fulfill its financial obligations to the institutions the youths are undergoing training.
He hinted that the region is sitting on a keg of gun powder, while noting that as repentant agitators, their main focus is preaching peace and non violence and will continue to appeal to government to do the needful and dissuade the youths from resorting to violence to force the authorities to wake up to their responsibilities but warned that when dialogue fails, anything can happen. West stressed that those in government have failed to better the lot of the people.
He painted a gloomy picture of the revelations from the NDDC probe, adding that the melodrama was expected when the President gave the Minister of Niger- Delta Affairs the mandate to supervise the NDDC, then the issue of forensic audit came, also the IMC, if the Minister had gone ahead to inaugurate the board and allow the forensic team work side by side with him, all the issues would have been addressed in a transparent manner.
Remember, the same Minister naming people was also a Senator at the period under review, If the likes of James Managers were mentioned, and since the Minister was part of the committee, then he could not be the judge in his matter.
The brunt of mismanagement is on the Niger-Delta people, look at the contracts running into billions cornered by the Aristocrats in the states where the blood of the people who sacrificed themselves for the region to get a better deal are not considered; then the federal government decided to give us a corresponding agencies to address the seeming neglect and years of marginalization but things are going downhill.
He stated that crisis is looming in the region which could spark off another round of unrest due to the growing army of unemployed youths.
He advised contractors that have benefited enormously from the commission without executing the contracts, to as mark of honour return all the monies collected and berated the APC led federal government for lack of commitment to the full implementation of Niger-Delta amnesty programme for the past 5-6 years noting that the gains have been destroyed by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.