By Sylvester Idowu
The Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, was told yesterday to return to Abuja and constitute the board of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
One of the ex-militant leaders in the region, Chief Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo, was said to have insisted that the seven-day ultimatum for the constitution of the board still stands.
Sources told THISDAY that the ex-militant leader also cautioned that all the ethnic groups in the region must also be carried along in the commission affairs.
According to the sources, “At the meeting with the minister, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo and other Niger Delta leaders reaffirmed the seven-day ultimatum, and told the minister to go back to Abuja after much deliberation to immediately constitute a substantive board for the NDDC.”
Among those at the meeting with the minister were the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Kingsley Otuaro; the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Mr. Akwa Effiong, and member representing Burutu federal constituency in House of Representatives, Hon. Julius Pondi, among others.
The meeting was held at Oporoza, the ancestral headquarters of Gbaramatu kingdom, the home of the ex-militant leader, Tompolo, in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Akpabio was in Oporoza yesterday to hold talks with Tompolo over his seven- day ultimatum to constitute a new board for the NDDC.
The minister arrived at Osubi airstrip at about 1.15 p.m. into the waiting hands of the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Otuaro, and a Chief in Gbaramatu kingdom, Dennis Otuaro, as well as security chiefs.
Shortly after there, Akpabio went to Oporoza on a boat with military escorts to engage Tompolo.
The minister’s visit was in response to the seven-day ultimatum issued to him and the federal government by Tompolo, to constitute a substantive board for the NDDC.
Tompolo had in a statement last Sunday warned that failure to inaugurate a board for the commission would lead to the total shutdown of oil facilities in the region, which will in turn cripple the economy of the country.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw National Congress (INC), the apex organisation of the Ijaw ethnic nationality, has appealed to the ex-militant leader and other groups, who are threatening to unleash mayhem at the end of the seven-day ultimatum, to suspend their planned protest.
The IYC, rising from a two-day meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, expressed fear on the consequences of the protest on the country’s economy and insecurity it would engender in the region.
Also, a group, the South South Reawakening Group (SSRG), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the ongoing forensic audit at the NDDC, and immediately constitute a substantive board for the commission.