A former Niger Delta warlord, Chief Government Ekpemupolo Tompolo, yesterday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to inaugurate the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Tompolo described the continuous running of the NDDC by a sole administrator at the instance of the Minister of the Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as undemocratic, anti-development and unacceptable.
Tompolo said in a statement: “I have watched and observed with keen interest, the circumstances surrounding the constitution of the NDDC board for some time now. I would have continued to keep watching and observing, but for love of the region and the country.
“The continuous running of the NDDC by a sole administrator at the instance of the minister of Niger Delta Affairs Senator Akpabio is undemocratic and anti-development, hence unacceptable to the people of the region.
“The people of the region are averse to a one-man show in a commission that is supposed to attend to the developmental needs of nine states, namely, Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers. It will likely set the region on fire, sooner than later.
“The Act establishing the commission provides among other things that it will be administered by a Board comprising a Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors and Commissioners who will be drawn from the nine states that made up the region.
“However, this provision has been blatantly undermined by Senator Godswill Akpabio and his co-travellers in the Presidency.
“There is no provision for either interim management committee or sole administration in the act that establishes the NDDC.
“Common sense will tell you that the so-called forensic audit that has been used by Senator Akpabio to strangle the commission could be best conducted with a substantive board that brings all representatives from the nine states and other parts of the country.”
Tompolo said the state of the commission is abnormal and could throw the relatively peaceful region into chaos and acrimony.
He added: “Undermining the very clear provisions in the establishing Act under the guise of an endless forensic audit is evil, and should be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians.
“It is in itself an act of corruption as the people of the region have lost so many resources in the process of the so-called forensic audit…
“There is no way things will continue in this manner. I am surprised at the recent silence of highly placed persons from the region on this matter.
Senator Akpabio should know that it is time to end this barbaric act as it will be concertedly resisted in the days ahead.
“Senator Akpabio’s temporal reprieve from the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) protest is a child’s play compared to what is to come in a few days. He is about to be awakened to the rage of the Niger Delta region.
“It is against this background that I wish to call on Mr President, members of the National Assembly and security agencies to work towards the constitution of the substantive board of the NDDC within 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.”
Also yesterday, youths under the aegis of Itsekiri Liberation Group (ILG), joined in the agitation for the inauguration of a substantive NDDC board.
It said the board must be inaugurated within 14 days else it would shut oil installations in Delta State.
In a statement by its chairman Mone Oris and secretary Ajofortan Omagbemi, ILG gave “full” backing to the protest by IYC.
To the group, the appointment of interim management and later, a sole administrator, all negate the law establishing the agency.
The group said: “We will no longer tolerate the Federal Government and minister of Niger Delta Affairs’ flimsy excuse of conducting forensic audit because it is clear that the 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.
“Therefore, we will not condone any deliberate act to control the resources in our land without following laid down laws backing the establishment of NDDC.
“Consequently, we hereby give full support to the leadership of IYC on the current protest.”
ILG said it has mobilised its members and the Itsekiri nation to seal off NDDC office and other critical oil facilities within the state until the Federal Government of Nigeria meets its demands.
They include immediate dissolution of the sole administratorship of the NDDC “because it is skewed to favour only a few cabals as against the general interests, benefits and representation of various states that ought to constitute the Board”.
The group added: “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 areas 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.
“All projects should be properly funded and executed in line with global engineering standards. We will vehemently resist abandoned projects.
“The Federal government should immediately include Itsekiris in the recently concluded recruitment of over 300 staff in NDDC.
“Any exclusion of our people in the recruitment of staff in NDDC will be resisted because under our production quantum of oil and gas, we are major stakeholders in the region and Nigeria at large.”
It said Itsekiri sons and daughters must be included in NDDC’s skill acquisition and empowerment programmes and be considered for management and executive positions.
“If these demands are not met, we shall decimate all oil and gas installations in our areas, seal up the NDDC office and ensure the nation’s economy is completely grounded till our demands are met.”
We all can remember what tompolo and the federal government went through before
Tomoko is back and ready to change things again in Niger Delta, according to government tompolo this is more like a warning to the government.