Ben Dunno, Warri
Following the expiration of the June 30, 2021deadline handed to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Alpabio, to constitute the board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ex-militant warlord, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, Aka Tompolo, has expressed fears of an imminent breakdown of law and order in the region.
While urging the federal government to as a matter of urgency grant the people of the region their popular demand to constitute a substantive board of NDDC in the interest of peace and development of the area, he however warned that further delay due to the government insensitivity might throw the only peaceful region in the country into chaos and anarchy.
Tompolo who recounted the efforts he had made in recent time to calm and to keep other Ex-agitators across the region in checks from engaging in violent acts capable of truncating the prevalent peace in the area, noted that time was running out as the aggrieved ex-militants are already running out of patience.
Making his stand known in a statement signed and made available to newsmen in Warri, yesterday, Tompolo, who commands the traditional title of; ‘Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation’, also accused multinational oil companies of conniving with the perceived enemies of the region to ‘divide and rule’ the people, in order to impoverished and under developed their land.
In the statement titled: ‘Niger Delta Agitators’ Ultimatum to the Federal Government of Nigeria: A Call for Restrain’, the former militant leader, called on the multinationals to stop using military presence in intimdating the locals and begin to create an atmosphere of cordial relationship with their host communities so as to promote mutual trust and confidence in the people.
The statement read in part: “It could be recalled that I issued ultimatum to the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to do the needful on the issue of the NDDC board by constituting the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as an urgent matter of public importance and interest to avoid a breakdown of law and order in the region, sometime ago”.
“My ultimatum led to a consultative meeting between major stakeholders from the region and Senator Godswill Akpabio in Oporoza town, where a truce was reached, as the Minister profusely pleaded that he should be allowed to start and fast-track the process of constituting the board within the month of June, 2021”.
“June 2021 has come to an end. The people of the region are yet to see any tangible move towards the constitution of the NDDC board by the Federal Government. The people are seriously agitated. There is palpable fear and tension in the region”.
“I wish to reiterate my position that, the government should as a matter of urgency, constitute the substantive board of the NDDC to avoid unnecessary bickering and crisis in the region”.
“Since I reluctantly accepted the outcome of the consultative meeting, I have done so much to keep peace in the region which some major stakeholders in the security circle are aware of”.
“I have been in constant touch with my fellow agitators in the region to give peace a chance, knowing fully well that there cannot be any meaningful development in an atmosphere of rancor and acrimony”.
“As it stands now, the one thing the government must do in this issue is to be courageous enough to constitute the NDDC board. Government must be sincere in handling developmental issues in the Niger Delta region as the people have suffered enough, being neglected for several decades”.
“The truth of the matter is that there is so much bitterness in the land owing to the lackadaisical attitude of this government in handling matters of great importance to its citizens”.
“As for my follow agitators, please permit me to borrow the biblical words of Jesus Christ, that we should be wise as serpent and gentle as dove to continue our agitation for a better living for our people”.
“We must avoid anything that may throw the only relatively peaceful region in the country now, into chaos because of government’s nonchalant attitude towards the security and welfare of its citizenry as constitutionally provided”.
“The average Nigerian citizen is a government of his or her own as the citizens provides everything for themselves today. The government is unfair to a greater number of its citizens. The Nigerian Government must create an enabling environment for the citizens to live a prosperous and peaceful life”.
“Multinational oil companies operating in the Niger delta region are not left out in the troubles of the region. They are clearly part of the conspiracy in the marginalization of the region”.
“They must perform their statutory obligations to the people of the region by promptly delivering cooperate social responsties to the people”.
“Most of the companies are operating under the cover of the Nigerian Military, which has further exacerbated the relationship between Multinationals and their host communities. They must do their business in a most friendly atmosphere, and not to set neighbouring host communities against one another”.