As the 2019 general elections draws near, leaders in the Niger Delta region and the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) worldwide, have charged the electorates to vote out the current National Assembly (NASS) members from the region following the cuts in the nation’s 2018 budget.
The region’s leaders, HardReporters reliably gathered that in one of their meetings over the cuts made in the budget, vowed to mobilise the electorates against the region’s federal lawmakers during the elections.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed dissatisfaction over the manner the 2018 budget was cut by members of the National Assembly as the sum of N5 billion earmarked by the Presidency as take-off grant for the National Maritime University Okerenkoko in Delta state was slashed by N1.6 billion by the lawmakers, leaving a balance of N3.4 billion for the take off of the varsity.
Again, the provisions for the completion of the East-West Road, which serves the South-East and South-South oil producing areas of the country, were significantly slashed raising concerns over the completion of the controversial road.
Top executive members of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) worldwide, who confided in our correspondent disclosed that already plans were in top gear in collaboration with some elders and leaders in the region in making sure that the current National Assembly (NASS) members from the region are voted out during the 2019 general elections following their inability to protect the interest of the region in the nation’s 2018 budget.
The IYC executive members described their region’s members in the National Assembly as insensitive, self-serving and incompetent, insisting that they have no business in the assembly, adding that they have disappointed the people as such there will be no need to return to the National Assembly to cause more irreparable havoc.
Also reacting to the development, one of the leaders and former President of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) worldwide, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, who supported and called for the voting out of the lawmakers in the 2019 elections, took a swipe at the federal lawmakers especially Senator Ben Bruce, representing the Bayelsa East, with all his commonsense posturing, kept mute and watching when all items concerning the Niger Delta in the 2018 budget were been slashed.
“There was no commonsense in reducing budgetary allocations for critical projects in a region, which produces resources to finance the entire budget.” Eradiri stated, adding that the actions of the lawmakers were provocative, sad and painful, saying that the lawmakers were the real problems of the Niger Delta.
According to the IYC former leader, it was obvious that the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari meant well for the South-South and South-East regions, saying the region was particularly pained by the reforms real reductions of budgetary allocations for the East-West road and the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State.
“It is unacceptable. This goes further to expose the kind of leadership that we have. I have further come to the conviction that the Federal Government is actually not our problem but our own people are our problems. Where were our senators and our representatives from the Niger Delta when the budget went through the House?
“How come they don’t have a caucus that looked at those items that concern the Niger Delta and ensure that they are funded to better the lives of our people? Niger Delta people are their own problems. What are the qualities of individuals they send to represent us? They cannot defend our people.
“They have no business in the National Assembly. Niger Delta people must vote out such individuals. “How can they sit down and allow our budgets to be reduced? It means that the President means well for the Niger Delta but the Niger Delta representatives don’t mean well. How can they allow the East-West road to be reduced?.
“It is unimaginable that the lawmakers watched as the budget for the Maritime University which became the centre of disputes and led to the formation of all kinds of groups that caused bloodshed in this country and brought down the economy was reduced. Senators from the region were busy talking about commonsense but they don’t have commonsense to look at what concerned the region.
“It is annoying, provocative, sad and painful. If it were my days in IYC, l would arrange to flog them. But Niger Delta people should not allow such persons go back to the National Assembly. We should emphasise on quality of persons representing the region. Niger Delta representatives are a disgrace”. Eradiri lamented.
Reacting also in the same vein, the President of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC), Worldwide, Eric Omare, expressed his displeasure over the cuts in the 2018 budget by the National Assembly members which affected the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko, the East West Road and other key projects in the region.
“The federal government included the sum of five billion naira for the take-off of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State but was reduced to N3.4 billion naira by the National Assembly in the budget that was passed. We consider the action of the National Assembly as insensitive and retrogressive to the development of the country.
“We condemn this action by the National Assembly. The National Assembly demonstrated selfishness and arrogated their personal interest over and above the national interest which they were elected to serve. It is utter selfishness for the National Assembly to reduce the budget proposal for key developmental initiatives and increased the budget for their personal cost.” Omare said.