The President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Peter Igbifa, said political leaders in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region must learn “very important lessons” from President Muhammadu Buhari, instead of joining others to criticise the president.
The Niger Delta region has remained underdeveloped, despite producing the oil that sustains Nigeria’s economy.
Agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), set up to speed up development in the region, have been plagued by corruption scandals, while the people from the region continue to live in poverty.
Mr Igbifa told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday, “I am one man who does not go about blaming Buhari for whatever”.
He said people from the Niger Delta should make it a priority to develop the region whenever they have the opportunity to occupy political office.
Goodluck Jonathan was the first person from the Niger Delta to be elected president of Nigeria, but many people in the region feel he did not do much to develop the area.
“I am sure if second term comes to us, we will learn from our mistakes and then make good use of this opportunity, especially in developing the region,” Mr Igbifa said, apparently referring to Mr Jonathan’s era as president.
“We all believe in rotational presidency in this country. And if you do, while you are in office, as you do for every part of Nigeria, you should not throw away the adage that charity begins at home.
“Let the adage that charity begins at home not become useless when it gets to your turn. As you beautify Nigeria, beautify your home – and that is what I think the president is doing. If you take office, know that that office is not forever.
“It is a message to all of us in the South-south, we shouldn’t be carried away by the small office we occupied. I see President Buhari as being very intelligent, he is not carried away with the office of the president, but he is transforming the north. He is touching other parts of Nigeria, but he is paying critical attention to the north. It is not a crime. When we take over this position too, we should do justice to the region.”
Mr Igbifa said he does not want to believe that President Buhari is not developing the Niger Delta region.
“Take NDDC, for instance. Is it Buhari that is stealing the money in the NDDC? It is not Buhari.
“We just have desperate politicians in the region. And this desperation comes with greed. It is not Buhari that is selecting people to be appointed (into NDDC).
“We have an elderly man who is president who gives our political leaders at the top freedom to operate, but what they do with this freedom is what is very sad. Buhari does not get involved in selecting people for appointment.”
Mr Igbifa also said the South-south should be allowed to succeed Mr Buhari in 2023 because “we didn’t complete our tenure” when Mr Jonathan was president. “It is just natural that we too should have our second term,” he said.
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