There were sighs of relief among stakeholders in the Niger Delta region yesterday following the decision of a former militant leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo, to call off his threats and ultimatum to the federal government to immediately constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He also said he did not call it off due to money and other material things but due to the love for the region and Nigeria.
The seven-day ultimatum issued on May 31, 2021 which was expected to end on Saturday had triggered militant groups and cells within the region to openly declare readiness to cripple oil exploration activities in the region.
The ultimatum also threw up support from other prominent former militant leaders and groups including the former leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante Force and the Amanayabo of Okochiri Kingdom in Rivers State, King Ateke Tom.
It was gathered that though they supported his moves to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to constitute the substantive board for the NDDC, stakeholders from the region including the national leader of the Ijaw nation and elder statesman, Chief E. K Clark; governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; his deputy, Barr. Kingsley Brutu Otuaro; the president of Ijaw National Congress, Professor Benjamin Okaba; the Commander of Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral A. Hassan and leaders of the various ethnic nationalities expressed concern on the threat to peace in the region.
Tompolo in the statement issued yesterday said though he issued an ultimatum on May 31, there had been a lot of concern which led to consultations among Nigerians, especially highly placed individuals and organizations from the Niger Delta region, including the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
He said: “As I expressed in my press statement of Monday May 31st 2021, I came into this matter because of the love for the region and Nigeria. I make bold to say that I cannot be compromised by money and other material things. However, the only thing one can do for Nigeria in these trying times, where all the six geopolitical zones are in turmoil, is to pray to God for peace and tranquillity, particularly for the economic hub of the country, the Niger Delta region.
“Therefore, I welcomed the consultative meeting of our revered traditional rulers from the region, the Delta State government, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) led by its president, Professor Benjamin Okaba, leaders from the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Ndokwa and other Nationalities with the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Akpabio in attendance, at the traditional headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Oporoza town on Thursday, June 3, 2021”
“The outcome of the meeting has been made known to the public by the Minister. He promised profusely to start the process of the constitution and inauguration of the substantive board of the NDDC immediately (from Friday June 4th 2021), and that he should be allowed to drive the process to an end on or before the end of June 2021”.
“As it stands now, I have accepted the outcome of the meeting reluctantly. It is pertinent to state at this juncture that, I do not want anything to disrupt the relative peace we are enjoying in the region. It was on this premise that I accepted the outcome of the meeting. The ultimate goal in this issue is for the minister to abide by the promise he has made to start the process of constituting the NDDC board now. Government shenanigans must be put away in this matter as constituting the NDDC board is very dear to the heart of the people of the region”.