Members of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Central Zone, shut down the activities of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Thursday.
For over two hours, the youths locked down the Board's headquarters in Yenagoa, the state capital, claiming that the NCDMB opened new offices in Lagos and Abuja contrary to the provisions of the Local Content Act.
The youths, who stormed the office complex located along Isaac Boro Expressway at about 9:45 a.m., forced their way into the building by pulling down a section of the fence after security guards had denied them access through the main gate.
The IYC chairman of the Central Zone, Tari Porri, who led the protest, said the group learned that the NCDMB opened new offices in Lagos and Abuja, which violated section 71, sub-section 3 of the NCDMB laws.
He stated that the NCDMB Act empowered the Board to open offices only in oil and gas producing areas. The IYC therefore questioned the Board's rationale for opening offices in Lagos and Abuja.
“This place has been left redundant and the Executive Secretary now operates from Lagos and Abuja and comes here only once in three months,” Mr. Porri said. “This is unacceptable! The Executive Secretary should stay here with us.
“The NCDMB laws stipulate that offices should be opened only in oil and gas areas, but the board has gone ahead to open offices in areas such as Lagos and Abuja which, are not oil and gas producing areas.
“Some of the staff of the Board, like the security guards and drivers, are working on a contract basis, and this is unacceptable to us. We we want all the staff to be regularized.”
The State Commissioner of Police, Asuquo Amba, commended the youths for their peaceful disposition.
He urged them to remain calm because Governor Seriake Dickson was aware of their grievances and promised to address the matter.
“I have to appreciate you for making this protest a very peaceful one, and I implore you to remain peaceful. We should respect the sanctity of this place as the headquarters.
“I have listened to all your grievances. I am in touch with the state governor and I have spoken to him and if there is anybody to lead this protest, it is the state governor himself. He personally told me to come and address you, compile your grievances and forward them to him.
“The Executive Secretary of the Board has given me the assurance that all the issues that you have raised would be addressed so we can have a peaceful environment and economic progress,” he told the protesters.