The Niger Delta militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), has threatened to resume hostilities against oil and gas operations in the region over an alleged employment scam in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to the MEND, they are ready to shatter the existing peace in the region within the next seven days if deployment letters are not issued to genuine and eligible indigent Niger Delta youths shortlisted by the NDDC from August 2019.
The MEND, in a statement issued and signed by its spokesman, Gen. Gbomo Jomo, said the seven days ultimatum is to allow the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Okon Akwa; Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator Peter Nwaboshi; and every other person connected to the management of the NDDC to prevail on the Commission to issue employment letters to the youths who had been shortlisted.
The statement by the group read, "Our attention has been drawn for the umpteenth time to the wicked antics by some highly placed (persons) within the Niger Delta Region and that of the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to shortchange our already bleeding and marginalised people, as regards a clear case of marginalisation of merited employees of the Commission.
"First, we must have to sound it, if that is what is required to pass the message across to those allowing themselves to be used to threaten the peace achieved in the Niger Delta, that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that has turned to a cocoa farm for every greedy Nigerian politician, is a product of the Ijaw struggle and every brick of that Commission represents an ounce of the blood of a Niger Delta agitator.
"Even though for regional interests, we the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had opted to stay out of the corruption and rot taking place at the NDDC, since some have sworn never to give peace a chance, we must at this time take particular interests as it was always supposed to be.
"We are very much aware that documentation of these employees has since been completed sometime in August 2019, after the issuance of their employment letters and deployment letters were due to be issued out before a wicked directive was issued stalling the entire process in order to simply accommodate the interest of bigwigs in the Presidency.
"Since then, a fresh approval for the regularisation of the 2019 employment was again made by the President in 2020, and till date, some powers have held back the process of issuing the deployment letters to the prospective staff members for whatever dubious reasons, which has even led to selected cases of suicide by some of these Niger Deltans due to depression as a result of resignation of duty in their previous places of engagement.
"Therefore, on this very sensitive matter of non issuance of deployment letters to the duly employed and documented staff of 2019, after critical investigations, we, the MEND has resolved as follows: ‘That the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the Sole Administrator of the NDDC are hereby given seven days from the 18th of January, 2021, to release to the affected Niger Deltans their deployment letters for immediate resumption of duty’.
"Our investigations reveal that the refusal to release the said deployment letters is because some persons have resolved to substitute these indigent but fortunate Niger Delta youths with their wards, girlfriends and as gifts for political favours. We also have it on good authority that instead of issuing deployment letters to these validly recruited staff, Mr Effiong Akwa, in conjunction with the Human Resources Director, Mr Silas Anyanwu, went ahead to embark on fresh contract staff recruitment despite the subsisting approval of Mr President in respect of the earlier completed recruitment exercise.
"We are assuring the NDDC that we have the list of the authentic persons, and for every change to that list, an oil pipeline would go up in flames. Any failure by the management of the NDDC or the Ministry of Niger Delta to heed to these demands, in whatever guise or excuse is sure to meet the angry wraths of ranks across the Niger Delta. The Nigerian state is sure to feel the full weight of passion to protect the course of defenseless Niger Delta youths.
"The MEND, at this point, keeps a keen eye on the activities of the NDDC like never before, and we are very sure those with the requisite pecuniary interests are sure to demand the commission to test our resolve. Seven days is our ultimatum to Okon Akwa and his godfather Godswill Akpabio. Whatever happens thereafter, we call on the Presidency to hold the NDDC leadership accountable for our actions, as the creeks would not boil, but very critical oil and gas infrastructure is sure to go up in very thick dark flames."