The dreaded Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF) has threatened to march down to Port Harcourt and storm sensitive federal government facilities if their president-general that has allegedly been in detention is not released.
The crisis is said to have arisen from allocation of palliatives given out to the nine states under the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a project that raised storms during planning the Commission in the first place.
BusinessDay gathered that the palliative running into billions of naira was administered in the form of cash of not less than N30,000 per nominee, but the allocation to Ogoni seems to cause uproar. The OYF claimed that the Ogoni youths did not know how the Ogoni share was distributed, heaping the blame on the representative of the woman from their area that represents the state in the NDDC, Caroline Nagbo.
The OYF said in a statement on Friday that its president-general, Legborsi Yamaabana, took up the matter and landed in detention camp of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) in Rivers State. The intervention of the DSS is however said to have saved situation from deteriorating as the Service was understood to have launched swift investigation of where the money went to.
The OYF statement signed by the publicity secretary, Lene Kingsley Lekue, said, “the substratum of the issue is that the NDDC distributed palliatives to youths in the nine states of Niger Delta to cushion the effect of the stay-at-home ordered by the government and it was revealed that Ogoni youths were not captured in the distribution.”
The statement said the body exhausted its patience and the president-general went on air, only to be ordered for arrest by the Ogoni daughter who is member of the interim management committee (IMC) or board of the NDDC. He said the OYF had raised a Freedom of Act inquiry that was not responded to.
The OYF and other Ogonis, however, fumed at the incarceration of their leader. The group said it went into the NDDC and found that the state representative alone cornered 30 of the Ogoni slots through a list submitted by her special assistant.
BusinessDay inquiries at the NDDC confirmed that it was only 25 names from her SA so far, and 46 so far to Ogoni persons. The OYF had suspected that since Nagbo’s SA is not Ogoni, that the Ogoni slots may have been diverted to other ethnic groups but the Special Adviser of the NDDC on Youth Affairs, Alfred Etuk, told BusinessDay that all the slots were real Ogoni. The DSS which is said to have launched an investigation may have also found out this situation.
The OYF statement said: “To clear all doubt, we respectfully inquired from Mrs. Caroline Barine Nagbo who denied knowledge of the palliative and said she was not consulted by the interim management committee of the Commission despite being in charge of youth, women, sports and culture in NDDC. Since then, we have made concerted efforts to meet with her and possibly reconcile the list but she unjustly avoided us.”
Etuk however told BusinessDay that it was Nagbo who called him to ask for the Ogoni quota and that when her SA brought the list, it was assumed that it was her list. The OYF however stated: “This singular act leaves us with the conclusion that Mrs. Caroline Nagbo betrayed Ogoni youths.
The Ogoni youths thus gave 48 hours ultimatum to the representative to resolve the matter to avoid a storm. “That failure to comply and ensure accountability, probity and transparency, we shall be constrained to petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies and also mobilize our rank and file and embark on a massive and never-seen-before protest to the Commission, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and other sensitive facilities,” the youth said.
“We call on the civil society organization and other youth and right groups in the Niger Delta to brace up and rise to the occasion to agitate for their interest, bearing in heart that the commission was established for the sole purpose of even and rapid development of the Niger Delta region,” they added.
When contacted, the Public Affairs Director of the NDDC, Charles Odili, referred the matter to the SA Youths, Alfred Etuk, who said he disbursed what was allocated to the nine states fairly and through the bank. He said he treated the list given to him by the SA to Nagbo, believing it to be for Ogoni. “Whatever is left will be given when the remaining list from Ogoni comes,” he said.
BusinessDay gathered that the president-general of the OYF was released later on Friday and sources close to him have confirmed his release.