Pioneer National Publicity and Organising Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Anietie Okon, has admonished Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to avoid conflicts with governors of the South-South region over the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Okon specifically cautioned him to steer clear of politics that might consume him, insisting that his recent outbursts against the South-South governors was insolent and unfortunate.

He gave the charge, yesterday, while reacting to Akpabio’s comments that governors of the region lacked the moral grounds to dictate how NDDC’s funds should be used.

Akpabio, who is immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom, had told them to focus instead on ensuring that local governments in their states have elected executives and not caretaker committees.

Okon described Akpabio’s warning to the South-South governors as mischievous and ill conceived and warned Akpabio to desist from misinterpreting South-South governors’ advice to him, which he said, was in the overall interest of the region.

His words: “I feel disappointed at Akpabio’s posturing that the South-South governors were in no position to issue directives to President Muhammadu Buhari on how to run the NDDC

“Akpabio’s utterances, among other vituperations, paint the picture of a minister whose actions and inactions show absence of concern for the well-being of the Niger-Delta region.”

Okon also backed governors of the South-South states for demanding an upward review of 2.5 per cent for the Host Community Trust Fund in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to 10 per cent in the interest of oil communities and the country.

“They only made demands for the good of their states and the Niger Delta region regarding the efficient management of the NDDC where the development and prosperity of the region has derailed. The governors’ demand was properly expressed and it is justified.

“Unfortunately, the unity, peace and progress of our country hang in disequilibrium, where governments of the federating units are forced to pick up the baton of responsibilities neglected by the Federal Government,” he added.

The South-South Governors Forum (SSGF) had during their meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at the weekend, noted that the NDDC was still being run without a substantive board for over a year.

The governors also advised President Buhari that in the absence of the NDDC’s board, funds meant for the commission beyond payment of salaries, should be domiciled in an escrow account until a substantive board was constituted.

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