- Shuns Akpabio’s Meeting In Delta Amid Tension
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio may have just 48 hours to inaugurate the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to beat the one week ultimatum handed over to the federal government by Ex-agitator leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo) which expires on Sunday June 6, 2021.
The New Diplomat learnt that Akpabio’s attempt to persuade Tompolo, via a scheduled meeting, to sheathe his sword following the one week ultimatum to the federal government last week, met a brick wall as the MEND leader refused to show up at the venue of the proposed meeting.
It was however learnt that other stakeholders present at the meeting told Akpabio that the 7-day ultimatum which expires on Sunday June 6, remains sacrosanct, urging the minister to go back to Abuja and do the needful before it is too late.
It would be recalled that several groups from the Niger Delta, including Ijaw Youth Council, Urhobo Youths, Isoko Youths, Itsekiri youths and a couple of Niger Delta ex-agitators had given different ultimatums to Akpabio whose ministry supervises the NDDC for him to inaugurate the substantive board of the Commission with threats to attack oil facilities if he fails to so do.
The Deputy Governor of Delta State, Mr. Kingsley Otuaro who accompanied the minister from Osubi Airport to Oproza, headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom, The New Diplomat learnt, did not hide his feeling as he was quoted to have said that:
“I came here representing the interest of the state in what I see to be a consultative meeting hosted here.
“Today is a day of sadness and joy, a day of sadness because our dear country is at the verge of implosion. We must set this discussion above rhetoric.
“If you look at the geopolitical zones in this country, everywhere is in turmoil. It speaks volume of the singular fact that there seems to be a failure of leadership.
“We cannot explain why an institution as the NDDC, that is a product of an Act, is being run in fragrant abuse in the guise of a forensic order,”
Otuaro however assured that the Minister will do the needful when he gets back to Abuja, urging everyone not to resort to self help.
“We must not allow our region to boil. There has been a process set in place. The process is such that a critical set of people are meant to work very closely with him to ensure that the processes are expedited almost immediately by tomorrow, as soon as he gets to Abuja”, he said.
Also speaking, the Spokesperson of Gbaramatu kingdom, Chief Godspower Gbebekama, warned that the peace being enjoyed in the region is not because there’s military presence, asking him to withdraw the July promise to constitute the board if he wasn’t sure about it.
According to him, the “gathering of all Niger Delta ethnic nationalities was not for fun, adding that the peace being enjoyed in the region was because leaders of the nationalities had resolved to maintain peace”, just as he advised Akpabio to constitute the board of the Commission immediately. He advised Akpabio to constitute substantive board for all the agencies under him.
HRM Oboro Gbaraun II, Pere of Gbaramatu kingdom, while addressing the minister, assured him that traditional rulers and leaders in the region have been working for the peace of the Niger Delta, adding that they will continue to do so.
Also speaking at the meeting, a representative of Isoko National Youth Assembly, Comrade Amos Ogbokor Etaluku, told the Minister of the Niger Delta that youths were disappointed in him, adding that they would not listen to any of his overtures, except he inaugurates the board of the Commission immediately. He accused Akpabio of greed and avarice, pointing out that only a greedy man would allocate what belong to the public to one man in the name of a sole-administrator.
“Honorable Minister, I want to be very frank with you at this point in time. We are very angry with you. We are very angry with you in the sense that it is only someone that demonstrates high level of greed and selfishness that can use one single person to run a commission, a commission that is supposed to have nine commissioners. You are using only one person and sideline other states,”
“We must tell you we are very angry, and we will not take it any longer. On this note we are standing behind the ultimatum by our leader and the seven days ultimatum. If the seven days expire, we cannot guarantee the safety of oil workers in this region”, Etaluku was quoted as said.
However, responding to questions after the close door meeting, Godswill Akpabio disclosed that he had a fruitful meeting with the leaders and stakeholders of the region, promising to kick-start the process of constituting the Board of the Commission immediately.
He however stopped short of declaring if he could beat the deadline of Sunday June 6, when the Tompolo’s one week ultimatum will expire.
“We had a robust discussion and consultation. The meetings have been fruitful. The consensus of stakeholders is that there is a need for more representation in the NDDC and so a board needs to be constituted.
“I have also assured them that as soon as I get back, I will commence the process and fast track the process.
“We have agreed that my office will fast-track the process of the constitution of the new board. We have also looked at what is affecting the region. The youths applauded, but they want to see more progress, more employment opportunities.”
“It is not a function of the ultimatum; it is a function of the fact that it was a call for the government to react to the aspirations of the people.
“The issue of ultimatum is not something I can speak on because there is a process and it has to start with the minister. The major thing is that we have committed to work together to make sure that we give what the people want”.
Meanwhile, the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, youth wing led by Efemena Umukoro, have continued to lay siege on the entrance of the Warri office of the NDDC in Ejeba, vowing never to leave until the federal government constitute and inaugurate the substantive board of the Commission.
Umukoro who is the President of the Union, expressed disappointment over the manner Mr. Akpabio had allegedly converted the Commission to a personal estate, noting that “the minister had done more harm than good to the people of the Niger Delta”.