By Olanrewaju Akojede
Lagos, Jan. 1, 2021 A South Africa-based Nigerian, Mr Kingsley Ibokette, has advised people calling for the resignation of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, to tread with caution as such could cause unwanted acrimony.
Ibokette, former President of Akwa Ibom Indigenes Organisation in South Africa, gave the advice in his New Year message to the people of Niger Delta region on Friday from Johannesburg.
The message, e-mailed to newsmen in Lagos, said that people should raise genuine issues in a sensible manner if they had one.
He was apparently reacting to the reported angry Ijaw youths storming the Niger Delta Development Commission’s office on Monday, Dec. 21, demanding for the immediate resignation of Godswill Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
The aggrieved youths had accused the former Akwa Ibom State governor of bringing his own brother to run the affairs of the commission.
He noted that their action raised questions on “what basis are Ijaw youths calling on Akpabio to resign? Since when has Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs been ascribed only to the Ijaws?’’
Ibokette cautioned them “to raise genuine issues if they have one in an orderly and sensible manner and not to provoke the other Niger Delta tribes into ethnic confrontation’’.
“Sen. Godswill Akpabio is well placed to transform the Niger Delta as a former performing Governor of a Niger Delta State, Akwa Ibom. The state has recently been adjudged the cleanest state in Nigeria over the last couple of years.
“This is as a result of the foundation left by the ex-governor. There may be short comings on Akpabio’s part but the ethnic provocation as if Akwa Ibom is not a Niger Delta State is too far-fetched.
“Akwa Ibom people are not happy with this senseless tribal provocation as seen by Ijaw youths when they laid siege at the office of the Minister as if Akpabio is a second class citizens in the Niger Delta community,’’ he said.
Ibokette noted that the Federal Government had instituted forensic audits to probe into the low impact of the NDDC in the affairs of the region but it looks like sponsored attacks are ongoing to derail the scrutiny of the commission.
“NDDC is for all the people of Niger Delta and it will be for the benefit of the region if everyone put hands on deck to see it succeed.
“The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has assured that the forensic audit of the Niger Development Commission (NDDC), will provide a strong base upon which a new NDDC will emerge.
“The minister has allayed the fear of NDDC stakeholders, advising that the forensic audit should be seen as an opportunity and not a witch-hunt,’’ he said.
He added: “We cannot sit back as law abiding citizens and allow sponsored attacks when it comes to time of probe.
“We have seen OMPADEC come and go with no positive impact and then NDDC was established to turn the tide but still our communities cannot boast of the basic economic amenities 20 years on.’’
Ibokette appealed to Ijaw youths to join hands with Akpabio to deliver on the task as expected of him.