A former Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Chief Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a Tompolo) yesterday agreed to the request of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute the board of NDDC before the end of June.
Ekpemupolo, the Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw nation, said he reluctantly accepted the outcome of the meeting with the minister, though warned that nothing should derail the agreement reached.
He made these remarks in a statement he issued yesterday, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute the substantive board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) before June 30 as a matter of urgency.
He agreed to review the early ultimatum he issued last Monday due to the aftermath of the consultative meeting held at Oporoza in Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South West Local government Area (LGA), Delta State by leaders, youths and stakeholders from the region and not any form of inducement.
The former warlord acknowledged that the seven-day ultimatum he issued last Monday, May 31 generated a lot of concern in the polity
He said the ultimatum “has generated lots of concerns expressed by Nigerians hence machinery was put in place for consultations among Nigerians, especially from highly placed individuals and organizations from the Niger Delta region, including the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.”
Ekpemupolo said he waded into the matter because of his love for the region and Nigeria, noting that he could not be compromised by money and other material things.
However, he said the only thing one “can do for Nigeria in the 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.”
Ekpemupolo said he welcomed the consultative meeting of “our revered traditional rulers from the region, 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.
“The minister has made the outcome of the meeting known to the public. He promised profusely to start the process of the constitution and inauguration of the substantive board of the NDDC immediately and that he should be allowed to drive the process to an end on or before the end of June 2021.”
Ekpemupolo disclosed that although he reluctantly accepted the outcome of the meeting, he warned that nothing should derail the agreement reached.
“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”, he added.
Ekpemupolo expressed appreciation to the traditional rulers, leader of the Ijaw Nation, Chief Edwin Clark; Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; his Deputy, Kingsley Otuaro; President of Ijaw National Congress, Prof. Benjamin Okaba; the Commander of Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral A. Hassan and all leaders of the various ethnic nationalities for their concern and intervention.