From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ijaw youths from the nine states of the Niger Delta region have asked the federal government to retun all property seized from ex-militant leader High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, commonly known as “Tompolo”.
The umbrella body of the Ijaw youths, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), in a message of solidarity to Tompolo on his 50th birthday, called on the Buhari administration to release without further delay the properties and valuables of Ekpemukpolo seized by the federal government.
While warning against the continuous neglect of the region, the IYC stated that the silence of the youths in the region over the serial acts of neglect by the federal government may lead to a possible implosion and renewed agitations.
IYC spokesman Mr Ebilade Ekerefe, in a statement issued in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, while likening Tompolo to late Major Jasper Adaka Boro, Harold Dappa-Biriye, Ken Saro Wiwa and other activists, declared that the continued neglect of the region by the Buhari administration may lead to the emergence of many Tompolos in the region.
‘Tompolo is a symbol of freedom and a respected role model to many youths in the region. He stood against the neglect of the region and against the federal government decision to play with issues of the Niger Delta region and the East-West road that is still wallowing in a very deplorable state. For us in the Niger Delta, the country can only make meaningful progress when restructuring reflect true federalism; to give way for individual regions to control their proceeds and make payments to the federal government,’ Ekerefe stated.
‘We also use this opportunity to call on the federal government to order that the bill on the Nigerian maritime university, which up till date is still lying there with the National Assembly assembly, should be forwarded to the president for his assent. We call on NIMASSA to move its floating Dock from Lagos to its original settlement in Okerenkoko, Delta State. The relocation of the NIMASSA Dock will go a long way to absorb our teeming unemployed youths in the region,’ the IYC spokesman said.
On the existing peace and good ratings of the Niger Delta region as better than other regions despite the supposed neglect and underdevelopment under the Buhari administration, Ekerefe attributed the peace in the region to the concerted efforts by stakeholders, including Tompolo, to prevail on agitated youths to change the narratives for the region.
According to Ekerefe, If not for the steps stakeholders of the region have taken to maintain peace, security and stability, the Niger Delta would have imploded and bled the economy of the country by now.
He however noted that if the right steps are not taken to address the demands of the people by the federal government, the region could implode.