…As Tensions Flare In Niger Delta
- Itsekiri Youths Threaten To Shutdown Oil Installations In 14 Days
- IYC Says Demonstration Continues Monday
Tensions flared up in the Niger Delta on Sunday as ex-agitator, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo (aka Tompolo) gave the federal government a 7-day ultimatum for it to inaugurate the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) with a clear message that the people of the oil-rich region can no longer keep quiet in the face of gross injustice and the flagrant delay of development in the region by the incumbent administration.
In a statement signed by the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Tompolo openly criticised the appointment of interim management committee and sole administrator to run the affairs of the Commission, describing it as unconstitutional, unlawful and unacceptable by the people of the Niger Delta region.
The Gbaramatu multiple chief lambasted some politicians in the presidency and the National Assembly who are offering tacit support to the Minister of the Niger Delta whom he accused of hijacking the NDDC for his selfish aggrandizement.
He reiterated the fact that the continued unnecessary delay in the inauguration of the board of the Commission is capable of igniting fresh unrest, adding that it could lead to collateral disturbances in oil operation in the region.
He said: “It is against this background that I wish to call on Mr. President, members of the National Assembly and Security agencies to work towards th constitution of the substantive board of the NDDC with a few days to avert a total breakdown of law and order that will equally affect crude oil exploration and exploitation activities in the region.
“I hereby proclaim a seven days ultimatum starting the date of this publication to inaugurate the substantive board of the Commission.”
Explaing why he’s speaking up now, Tompolo said “he has watched with keen interest the circumstances surrounding the constitution of the NDDC board for some time now”, adding that “I would have continued to keep watching and observing, but for the love of the region and the country.”
According to him, “the continuous running of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, by a sole-administrator at the instance of the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio, is undemocratic and anti-development, hence unacceptable to the people of the region.”
He recalled that “the Act establishing the Commission provided among other things that it will be administered by a board comprising of a chairman, managing director, executive directors and commissioners who will be drawn from the nine states that made up the region”, adding that “this provision has been blatantly undermined by Senator Godswill Akpabio and his co-travellers in the Presidency”.
Meanwhile, the Itsekiri Iiberation Group, ILG has threatened to shutdown all crude oil installations within their territory in the Delta and Edo States and seal off the NDDC office in Delta State until the federal government appoints and inaugurates a substantive board for the Commission.
In a statement released by the group on Sunday, ILG disclosed that the decision to shutdown the oil operation in the area was taken “after carefully assessing the recent happenings in the NDDC, including the appointment of interim management committee, and later, sole administrator by the federal government of Nigeria, which negates the law that established the NDDC in the year 2000…”
“We will no longer tolerate the federal government and the minister of Niger Delta Affairs’s flimsy excuse of conducting forensic audit because it is clear that gthe forensic audit is a charade and a deliberate attempt to stay glued to power and further impoverish our people in oil and gas producing communities in the Niger Delta.”
The statement which was signed by Comrades Mone Oris and Ajofortan Omagbemi, chairman and Secretary respectively, stated that “we will not condone any deliberate act to control the resources in our land, without following laid down laws backing the establishment of the NDDC.”
The group made a 6-point demand for the federal government to address, including, “the federal government should immediately sack the sole administrator managing the affairs of the NDDC, because it is skewed to favour a cabal as against the general interests and representation of the various states that ought to constitute the board.
“The federal government should with immediate effect, appoint, confirm and inaugurate a substantive board for the NDDC within 14 days.”
“The federal government should include all projects in Itsekiri area such as Koko-Ogheye road, Omadino-Escravos (Ugborodo), Jakpa to Ogheye to Ugbege road, Rural electrification project from Koko to Benin River in Warri North, Koko shoreline protection etc in the NDDC budget.
“The federal government should immediately include Itsekiris in the recently recruitmernt of over 300 staff in NDDC.
“Itsekiri sons and daughters must be included in NDDC skill acquisition and empowerment programmes.
The Itsekiri group assured that “We will not be peaceful anymore, because it appears our peaceful disposition is being taken for granted. If these demands are not met, we shall decimate all crude oil and gas installations in our areas and seal up the NDDC office in Warri, to ensure the nation’s economy is completely grounded till our demands are met.”
Meantime, the ongoing strike by the Ijaw Youth Council is expected to continue tomorrow Monday, May 31 as the group said it’s not backing out yet on its mass action which it started last week.
The continuous issuance of ultimatum and threats by various groups and stakeholders, seeking an urgency in the inauguration of the NDDC board has now become a source of tension among locals in the region.