Trouble Looms in Oil Sector over NDDC as Tompolo’s Ultimatum Gathers Momentum

Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo Photo
ex-Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo

The threat by ex-Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, to cripple the economy of the nation if within seven days the federal government refused to inaugurate a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has started to gain traction.

A group known as the Niger Delta Volunteers for Good Governance, NDVGG, on Wednesday queued behind Tompolo in forcing the hand of government to accede to their demand. Recall that Tompolo, the Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation, had on Sunday May 31, 2021, handed down the seven-day ultimatum to inaugurate a Board “to avert a total breakdown of law and order that will equally affect crude oil exploration and exploitation activities in the region”.

He described the continuous running of the NDDC by a sole administrator at the instance of the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, as “undemocratic and anti-development, hence unacceptable to the people of the region” adding that it would likely set the region on fire, sooner than later” . According to him, “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”.

Throwing their weight behind the Gbaramatu warlord, NDVGG president, Ben Bowei, aka, Lord Mayor 1 of Niger Delta, said in Benin on Wednesday, that after exhausting all the available avenues for consultations, the group had no option but to join force with other groups, particularly the well respected ex-militant leader, in demanding for justice.

Bowei, a former national treasurer, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC worldwide, who also doubles as the Secretary-General, Edo Restoration Movement, explained that the decision to join Tompolo became necessary taking into consideration the injustice meted on the Niger Delta people, particularly Edo State.

Reading out the riot act to the federal government, Bowei said “We have come to the conclusion that after the 7-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government by our well respected leader, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo elapses, we are going to crumble all economic activities, particularly oil exploration, in the entire Niger Delta region.

“We have vowed to shut down all facilities which will crumble the economy of the nation unless the Federal Government does the needful by correcting the injustice meted on the people of the Niger Delta.

“Enough of this injustice done to us in our region. We will not accept it any longer, and I mean it! A single individual cannot take a whole region made up of millions of people for granted. We are demanding that a substantive board for the NDDC be inaugurated immediately else, the government will see our other side. We are not joking. Immediately after the 7-day ultimatum elapses, we are going to strike”.

Bowei further threatened that they would take over the East-West Road and the NDDC office in Benin should the Federal Government fail to set up the Board, insisting that the Act establishing the NDDC does not recognise sole administrator, insisting that what obtains now is an aberration.

Bowei’s Edo Restoration Movement, which has as president Honesty Agingbatse, had some months ago protested the development in the NDDC where he demanded that a substantive Board be set up for the Commission, as required by the Act. He stated then that the group decided to occupy the NDDC office in Benin because of the marginalisation of Edo State, and the Niger Delta in general.

Below is the full statement by Ekpemupolo:

EX-NIGER DELTA WARLORD’S RED FLAG ON NDDC
Full Statement by Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo Giving 7-day Ultimatum to the Federal Government on Sunday May 31, 2021

MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND SENATOR GODSWILL AKPABIO SHOULD AS A MATTER OF URGENCY CONSTITUTE THE SUBSTANTIVE BOARD OF THE NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (NDDC)

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 Niger Delta Development Commission (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 provided, among other things, that it will be administered by a board comprising of a Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors, and Commissioners who will be drawn from the nine states that make up the region. However, this provision has been blatantly undermined by Senator Godswill Akpabio and his co-travelers 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. As one from the region, Senator Akpabio’s initial mission to audit past activities of the commission was seen as welcome development, but later the people realised that it was a personal mission to feather the next of his 2023 political ambition.

Clearly, the present state of the commission is abnormal and could throw the relatively peaceful region in the country into chaos and acrimony.

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 much resources in the process of the so-called forensic audit. No one can tell the amount of money that has been spent by Senator Akpabio in pursuing this divisive agenda. It is obvious that there will be another forensic audit to investigate the activities of Senator Akpabio by the time he let grip off the commission. This is disheartening and worrisome.

Senator Akpabio has refused to pay contractors even after evaluation of work done. He has selectively paid his cronies and those in the list of political patronage. It is an open secret that some contractors have been made to part with up to between 30% and 50% of the contract sum. I ask, where is the equity and probity of this sole administration?
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. Perhaps, Senator Akpabio is not alone on this NDDC abduction. This must be a product of high-wired conspiracy among persons from the Presidency, National Assembly and Security Agencies to perpetually silence all well-meaning Nigerians in this strange deal.

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.

Signed
High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo)
The Ibe-Ebidouwei of Ijaw Nation

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