Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
A Federal Government intervention agency in the Niger Delta, the Niger Delta Development Commission, has received backlashes from Bayelsa State students.
Many students from the state, under the auspices of the National Union of Bayelsa State Students, accused the management of the NDDC of failing the state.
The students staged a demonstration at the Bayelsa’s office of the commission accusing it of negligence and out of touch with the plight of the people of the state.
The angry youths caused temporary traffic jam along the Melford Okilo Expressway in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The placard-carrying protesters placed the commission’s office under lock and key, following their anger that no senior employee of the NDDC was available to talk to them.
The padlock was, however, broken by a patrol team of policemen, shortly after the youths left the place.
The President of NUBSS, Mr. Fredrick Importance, said persons managing the commission’s office in the state were not on ground and lacked understanding of the plight of Bayelsa.
He said they made several failed efforts to see the management team, including sending letters to the commission before taking their decision to hit the streets in protest.
Importance said, “Our grievance is that NDDC in Bayelsa State isn’t functioning. It has failed to address issues bordering on the development of the state and the welfare of Bayelsa State students. Niger Delta cannot tell us that in their projects, provisions are not made for the education sector development of the region.
“There can’t be development in the region without working on the education sector. We, as a pressure group, are out to demand that if NDDC isn’t ready to serve Bayelsans, they should resign and leave the office for those who want to work. They are never here.
“Their office is always looking empty with only junior staff. They should be scrapped. We call on the state government to dissolve them. They are not contributing anything towards the development of the state or education.”
He claimed to see a report saying that NDDC had 8,000 projects in the state but added that such projects were incisive as they were nowhere to be found.
Also speaking, an Ijaw youth leader, Mr. Moshima Lokpobiri, said they never met key officials of Bayelsa NDDC in their offices.
Lokpobiri said, “NDDC is practically doing nothing in this state. Go to other states, their NDDC offices are always busy with people working inside but the case of Bayelsa State is totally different.
“This protest is a signal sent to the Federal Government that the NDDC in Bayelsa State isn’t working and the next time we come, it will be worse than this. Other states organise programmes for their students and the youth, pay attention to them and always involve the welfare of the students and youths but it is quite different in Bayelsa State.”
He called on the state’s representative on the commission’s board to address all their issues to avert ‘’a mother of all protests’ against the agency.
Efforts by a female employee to address the students were unsuccessful, as the protesters said they were not ready to hear from a junior worker.
The students took their protest to the office of the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Markson Fefegha, appealing to the state government to pay their bursaries.
But the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Felix Odugo, said their request would be given serious consideration by the ministry.
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