In this interview, Mr. Oweilaemi Pereotubo, president of the IYC worldwide, speaks on the raging controversy over the renewal of the tenure of the board of the NDDC board, as well as the leadership crisis in the Ijaw youths body.
It looks like there is leadership crisis in the IYC. Eric Omare says he is the president of the IYC. How do you react to this?
Well, the truth of the matter is that the previous Mr. Udengs led Exco where Eric Omare was spokesman of council had internal crisis, i.e. the eleven man exco was divided into two groups. Udengs, the former president of council and Omare who was the spokesman, on one side. And the deputy president, secretary- general, national woman leader, legal adviser, treasurer, financial secretary and others were on the other divide. Our constitution says that before a national convention is called to kick start the electioneering processes, Exco members must agree to do that. So when only Udengs and Omare called for convention in Burutu, Delta State, all other members boycotted it and called for a convention at Toru Ebeni community in Bayelsa State. Less I forget, before the Burutu convention called by only Udengs and Omare , past IYC presidents, founding fathers and stakeholders met in Patani to talk to Udengs and Omare to put off their planned convention until the internal crisis is resolved. But they refused and went on with their convention. It was as a result of that, that the other eight members went to Toru Ebeni to hold another convention which I attended as an aspirant.
After the said two conventions in the council, several other meetings of leaders and stakeholders were held in Asaba under the instance of the deputy governor of Delta to make sure we have a unity convention for every faction to participate. In those meetings, it was resolved amongst others, that Burutu never existed. That is, the Burutu convention was done in bad faith and Omare was asked to denounce Burutu in national dailies, which he did. The idea of all this was for him to come and join every other contestant to contest at Okrika in Rivers State . But unfortunately he refused to come to
Okrika for the unity convention after saying Burutu was illegal. So, Ijaw nation went on in the presence of all past presidents, founding fathers and High Chief Ateke Tom, where I became the winner. It may interest you to know that at Okrika, during the election, seven of us contested for the president where I won in a keenly contested election. And I was declared the winner. Because of the need for Ijaw nation to be united, the governor of Bayelsa State Hon. Seriake Dickson set up another committee called the imminent persons committee, chaired by Chief Josuha Fumudoh, pioneer president of INC and Ambassador Bolade Igali as secretary, to again look into the lingering crisis in IYC to come up with a lasting solution. The committee invited all of us, including Omare to appear in person to give oral and documentary evidence which we all did. After all said and done, the committee came up
which we all did. After all said and done, the committee came up with their findings, again move the Ijaw nation headed by governor Dickson to Pa E.K Clark's residence in Abuja where the report was laid bare. That is to say the committee report of the election that brought my Exco and I substantially complied with the provisions of our constitution and therefore I am the president of Ijaw youth council IYC worldwide.
And I understand that the matter is in court
Omare took me to several courts in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers and I am the only one paying for the bills. Omare took Ijaw nation to several courts in Nigeria against the decision of Ijaw nation. He took Ijaw nation to courts in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers. I say Ijaw nation because it is not about me. What does a man what in life?
How do you react to the issue of tenure elongation in the NDDC, vis a vis the position of the SGF on the matter?
On the alleged tenure elongation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board, our position is clear. The attempted tenure extension is illegal. It is against the spirit of rotation amongst the nine states envisaged by the law establishing the commission. I pity politicians who are playing politics with government agencies like the NDDC and the amnesty offices because these offices were created as a result of supreme sacrifices of Ijaw people, particularly the youths. In others words, these agencies are a creation of our blood so politicians should desist from playing politics with them.
The planned tenure elongation by the president board is illegal, unfortunate and will not be allowed. It is enshrined in the Act establishing the commission the offices including the MD should rotate amongst the nine oil producing states. Let me tell you that the NDDC and the amnesty office was created my government to fast track development in the Niger Delta as a result of sacrifices people have paid, particularly the blood of the youths. So I pity anybody who plays politics with these organs of government. They are not just like any other government agencies. So I warn politicians who play politics with them because the gods of Ijaw nation will go after them. This present body came to complete the tenure of Dan Abia. So any attempt to procure documents from high places fraudulently to elongation their tenure will meet stiff opposition from the youths of the region. Therefore I call on Mr. President to call the board to order immediately without wasting time to save his goodwill and in doing that, he would further get the trust and confidence of us.
What practical steps will the IYC take to stop the plot?
We as Ijaw youths will continue to say no to illegal tenure elongation with protests and peaceful campaigns across the Niger Delta because the NDDC was created as a result of the supreme prize paid by Ijaw youths.