- Other Groups Seek Wider Consultation
The leader of the Movement of the Niger Delta, MEND, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, (aka Tompolo) has extended his one week ultimatum to June 30, 2021 to enable the Minister of the Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to complete the process of constituting and inaugurating the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This is coming less than 24 hours after Akpabio made a shuttle to Delta on Friday, where he visited Oproza, the headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom.
The New Diplomat had earlier reported that Akpabio attempted to persuade Tompolo, via a scheduled meeting, to sheathe his sword following his one week ultimatum to the federal government last week. However, the effort met a brick wall as the MEND leader refused to show up at the venue of the proposed meeting.
But in a statement just released a while ago which was personally signed by him, he paid glowing tributes and respect to the intervention of traditional rulers, leaders from all ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta, youths bodies and other stakeholders, adding that for the interest of peace and his love for the region and the country, he has agreed with the Minister to kick-start the process of inaugurating the board which must be completed by June 30, 2021.
Tompolo’s statement as released reads:
“The Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation
RE: PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND SENATOR GODSWILL AKPABIO SHOULD AS A MATTER OF URGENCY CONSTITUTE THE SUBSTANTIVE BOARD OF THE NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (NDDC)
I issued a seven-day ultimatum on the above subject matter on Monday May 31st 2021. There were a lots of concerns expressed by Nigerians on this matter within this period, hence machineries were put in place for consultations among Nigerians, especially from highly placed individuals and organizations from the Niger Delta region, including the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
As I expressed in my press statement of Monday May 31st 2021, I came into this matter because of love for the region and Nigeria. I make bold to say that I cannot be compromised by money and other material things.
However, the only thing one can do for Nigeria in this trying times, where all the six geopolitical zones are in turmoil, is to pray to God for peace and tranquility, particularly for the economic hub of the country, the Niger Delta region.
Therefore, I welcomed the consultative meeting of our revered Traditional rulers from the region, Delta State Government, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) led by its President, Professor Benjamin Okaba, leaders from the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Ndokwa and other Nationalities with the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio in attendance, at the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oporoza town on Thursday June 3rd 2021.
The outcome of the meeting has been made known to the public by the Minister. He promised profusely to start the process of the constitution and inauguration of the substantive board of the NDDC immediately (from Friday June 4th 2021), and that he should be allowed to drive the process to an end on or before the end of June 2021.
As it stands now, I have accepted the outcome of the meeting reluctantly. It is pertinent to state at this juncture that, I do not want anything to disrupt the relative peace we are enjoying in the region. It was on this premise that I accepted the outcome of the meeting. The ultimate goal in this issue, is for the Minister to abide by the promise he has made to start the process of constituting the NDDC board now. Government shenanigans must be put away in this matter as constituting the NDDC board is very dear to the heart of the people of the region.
I wish to thank all our revered traditional rulers for their fatherly role they played in the matter, my father, ground leader of the Ijaw Nation and elder statesman, Chief E. K Clark for his concern and intervention in this matter, the Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and his deputy, Barr Kingsley Brutu Otuaro for their intervention, The President of Ijaw National Congress, Professor Benjamin Okaba, The Commander of Operation Delta Safe, Rare Admiral A. Hassan, Leaders of the various Ethnic Nationalities for their solidarity, Youths of all the Ethnic Nationalities from the region, Women groups and others too numerous to mention here. I say a thank you to all.
It is my prayer that the needful be done to develop the Niger Delta region as seen in advance climes.
High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo)
The Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation”
Meanwhile, it is not clear yet if Tompolo’s press release would be respected by the Ijaw Youth Congress whose members have barricaded the entrance of the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, and the Urhobo Progress Union youth body that has laid siege on the entrance of the Delta office of the Commission in Warri and youths from other ethnic groups who have been aggrieved by the lingering NDDC crisis.
However, a coalition body comprising some youth groups from the nine Niger Delta states, whose leadership spoke to The New Diplomat on phone, acknowledged the latest press release by Tompolo, but however added that the MEND leader has only spoken for and on behalf of the Delta Ijaw ethnic nationalities.
The coalition which has Comrade Dayo Temitope from Ondo State as coordinator, Comrade Brigade Adjaino from Delta, secretary and Comrade Noriko Brisbe from Rivers, stated that although they are aware of Tompolo’s position in his latest press release, it is not binding on them.
According to them, the NDDC belongs to the nine states in the region and no one state or ethnic nationality can lay claim to the existence and operation of the Commission.
The group expressed concern that with the way the MEND leader is seemingly dictating the pace of development in the NDDC imbroglio, they don’t want to believe Tompolo and the Ijaws of Delta State will dictate to the federal government on who and how to constitute and inaugurate the board of the Commission.
“We are aware of the latest press release by Tompolo, two days after the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio left Oproza where he unsuccessfully met face to face with the MEND leader.
“NDDC belong to the nine oil priducing states of the Niger Delta and not only Delta State nor the Ijaws of Delta State.
“We members of this coalition will not accept a situation where the fate of the Commission will be determined by one individual to the detriment of other stakeholders.
“Our position therefore is that in constituting and inaugurating the board of the Commission, it must be carried out within the confines of the consultation with all the stakeholders in the region in line with the provisions of the Act setting up the Commission.
“This is our position because we have all been suffering equally since the Minister, Godswill Akpabio held the Commission by the jugular”, the group said.